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CoVid Vaccine Update, Gauging Timeline for Return to the New Normal,   Economic Snapshot  & ...  


May 25, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / CoVid in NYC Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.


corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nys

Memorial Day was a beautiful sunny day, with temperatures into the 70’s, and dry. Given the month of May is nearly over, I thought I’d do a recap of what has transpired during the month to gauge how far we’ve come and how far we have to go to return to the new normal.


Let’s start with a quick update on the CoVid virus itself. As we entered the month of May, new CoVid hospitalizations were running about 800 per day. As of Governor Cuomo’s last few reports, the number of new hospitalizations is running at between 200 – 300 per day. The net daily intubations have been running negative [meaning more people coming off than going on] for most of the last couple of months ranging from close to zero [meaning folks coming off intubations were about equal to those going on] to nearly 150 more coming off than going on.


As we exited April, NYC and NYS were closing the popup hospitals located primarily around the city, as the existing facilities were moving into a position where they were able to handle the sick patients entering the healthcare system. Overall both NYC and NYS have freed up a considerable amount of hospital and respirator capacity, so that most parts of the state will be economically open in the Phase I stage by this coming week – with the exception being NYC.


It’s important to remind folks that NYC, with a population of about 8.5 million, represents nearly half of the approximately 19.5 million population of NYS – and that we’re far more densely packed into a far smaller space than likely anywhere else in the nation. I mention this to help folks understand that we, in NYC, have the highest hurdle to transcend to move toward the new normal. But that said both the Mayor and the Governor believe that if the trends continue, NYC should be in a position to move into Phase I sometime within the first two weeks of June.


In prior reports we’ve identified the people most at risk of dying from the disease should they contract it. These folks still need to tread cautiously, as well as the folks who surround them, as no cure is in sight – regardless of what you may hear on the ratings-driven TV news or from a flailing president who oftentimes seems more concerned about the impact of the virus on his re-election chances, than on Americans’ health.


Scientists and pharmaceutical organizations around the world on working on numerous different therapies which may help speed recoveries. There are eight new vaccines that are in some stage of clinical trials, and a reported 110 vaccines in the works. The eight in clinical trials are only in the early stages of clinical trials, which are used to determine the efficacy and safety profile of a drug.


Is the ‘Real’ Donald 'Faking' News About a CoVid Vaccine?


If you listen to the blather of the bellowing Donald who constantly berates the ‘fake news’, you’d think a CoVid 19 cure is just around the corner. But hark back to a couple of months ago, to listen to what the Donald was telling the American public as the Corona Virus was getting underway.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfGUpS5s7yA


As of this writing, over 1.6 million Americans have contracted CoVid 19 and nearly 100,000 Americans have died from it. Americans account for about 5% of the population of the world and account for about 30% of the reported CoVid cases and deaths.


What do People Educated & Experienced in Vaccines Say?


The people who have been educated in the field, and have experience in the field, say that a vaccine is AT LEAST A YEAR OR MORE AWAY. As I’ve published before, THE SHORTEST TIME IT EVER TOOK TO PRODUCE A VACCINE was in the 1950’s for polio, and that took four years. So that’s one pretty solid benchmark to keep in mind going forward.


If a vaccine killed just one in 500 people, that would amount to 660,000 deaths in a fully vaccinated populace in this nation alone. In a March 8, 2020 report in the New Yorker, John Shiver, the SVP of Global Vaccine Research & Development of Sanofi, a multi-national pharmaceutical company, said, ‘“You certainly don’t want a vaccine that can make it worse”.


The public policy thinking is that we don’t want to give a vaccine to the nation’s population without properly testing it for both efficacy and safety. This is why the FDA has a rigorous set of rules surrounding the testing of drugs before they are released to the general public.


Expectations / Timelines for Obtaining a Trustworthy Vaccine


The New York Times posted a graphical Op Ed piece on April 20, 2020 that graphically depicted the data for new drugs that looked at various scenarios for shortening the timeline for drug testing, regulatory review and approvals and manufacturing. After reviewing the piece I came away with the conclusion that – based on historical records – we’re years away.


A March 8, 2020 piece in the New Yorker looked at some of the earliest vaccines out of the starting block for CoVid 19. One of the first steps in the process is reading the genetic map of the virus which the Chinese had done by January of 2020, and which they subsequently distributed. Relative to history, this was very fast. The New Yorker piece stated that,


“a covid-19 vaccine developed, licensed, and manufactured at a global scale in twelve months would be an unprecedented, remarkable, even revolutionary achievement.”

I suppose anything is possible, but for those of us on the ground, living amidst CoVid 19 on a daily basis, we need to stay focused on what is pragmatic and what is probable. So a vaccine isn’t likely or probable within the next year or so – and by most accounts - likely quite a bit longer. If a vaccine is found that is both efficacious and safe in less time – it will be akin to

winning the lottery … great. But most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to live our lives banking on winning the lottery. An April 20, 2020 report in National Geographic starts with the second headline stating, “Considering the history and science behind making these drugs, “a year to 18 months would be absolutely unprecedented,”.


Reality Check: Why Getting a Vaccine Takes so Long


The bottom line is that you have to test vaccines / drugs to see how well they work in the general population. That requires recruiting numerous people willing to take the risk of being treated with an unproven vaccine or the risk of being treated with a placebo – meaning no protection. Then you have to put them in an environment where they are exposed to the virus so you can see how well they fare [immunity]. That may prove efficacy. Then you have to test the drug / vaccine in large enough numbers of the population to be able to measure the impact [its safety] on people with various health conditions and whether there are adverse interactions with other drugs.


A good example of what this testing can find is a recent study conducted on hydroxychloroquine – the drug ‘Doctor’ Donald has been promoting to treat CoVid 19, which is commonly used to treat malaria and lupus. According to an April 17, 2020 report by Reuters, a clinical trial in Brazil involving 81 patients was halted after eleven of the participants died. Four were receiving low doses and seven were on high doses.


Assuming the same results for the U.S. population, if all Americans followed ‘Doctor’ Donald’s advice to take hydroxychloroquine to treat themselves for CoVid 19 - up to 44 million of them could die. You should know that this is a simplistic analysis - but the point remains valid - drugs need to be tested before releasing them to the general public or the ‘cure’ could be far more devastating than the cause or ‘condition’.


That’s the end of the science lesson. The goal here is not to reduce any optimism of a revolutionary break through – but to temper that optimism with realism - so that you can properly prepare or steel yourself for the coming year(s).


When Do We Return to Normal? Gauging the Timeline Based on Institutional Announcements


A few institutions have provided what I consider benchmarks for our expectations of a return to the new normal. Broadway Shows announced that they won’t be opening again until at least September. Various large universities have given mixed guidance for the Fall semester with NYU and Columbia University declaring their intent to re-open for in person classes as early as the Fall according to a May 19th report in the Gothamist. Governor Cuomo has not yet taken a position on schools reopening for SUNY and CUNY, but both Binghamton and Syracuse

announced last Wednesday that they intend to open for in-person classes this Fall – although

Governor Cuomo went public saying that it’s too early to know for sure.


Professional sports are expected to resume / begin practice and training at their facilities as the Governor just gave the green light within the past couple of days. Some professional sports teams may resume professional league play without in-person audiences as early as July.


And both the Mayor and the Governor agree that, assuming trends and progress continue, NYC should enter phase one of opening the economy in the first or second week of June.


A Slower Economy & The New Normal


Then there’s the economy. As our attention shifted from containing the virus and its impact on the healthcare system, we began to shift focus to making a living again. This is our next great challenge, and it is complicated by the lingering threat of CoVid 19 and the limitations of what science can do for us as described above.


In early May, the Governor and the Mayor began collaborating to disinfect the subway on a daily basis, while transitioning the homeless to other quarters as the homeless had made the subway their home during the pandemic outbreak. This effort will help minimize the spread of the virus via mass transit, by which millions travel daily in normal times.


By mid-May the Governor had given the green light to several regions of NYS to re-open, yet said NY Pause was still in effect, even though by the end of the month, likely only NYC will remain closed [for reasons mentioned above as we’re half the state and we’re the most densely populated and trafficked NYS / USA region].


NYC Unemployment Losses Spike as does NYS & USA


By the end of April, the number of new unemployment claims since the CoVid outbreak began in mid-March, had risen to 30 million. As of this post, that number now stands at 38 million. A May 24th report on CNN stated that Senior White House Economic Advisor Kevin Hassett told CNN that,


“… he thinks the unemployment rate, which hit 14.7% in April, may rise to 22% to 23% by May and edge up a bit in June before heading lower ...”


Given how badly New York City and New York State were hit - surprisingly - the economies of both were performing in line with the rest of the nation [unemployment-wise]. The unemployment rates for both NYC and NYS were in the neighborhood of 14.2% and 14.5% respectively. But these may statistics are believed to have undercounted the real picture, which as noted in the quote above, is expected to significantly worsen in May.


NYC Leisure & Hospitality Hardest Hit in NYS


According to the NY Department of Labor April 2020 report, the Leisure and Hospitality category was the hardest hit, losing 335,000 jobs - down nearly 72% from the prior year. This should come as no surprise, as NYC attracts some 60 to 65 million tourists per year. Tourism represents an average influx of 5.5 million people each month, who NYC can normally count on to spend some of their cash. But since mid-March tourists have not been a factor in our economy. In total NYC lost 885,000 jobs in April, down nearly 22% to about 3.2 million jobs in the private sector.


Airlines report that their traffic is down in the neighborhood of 90% +/- since the pandemic began in mid-March. I found it interesting that those figures are in line with the subway usage declines. These passenger losses affect NYC’s busy airports, many of the people they employed by both the airlines and the terminals, and related services. Our airports are also economic engines.


NYC Tenants, Landlords & Real Estate Mortgage Payments


In April and again in May, many people in NYC have missed their rent payments. Governor Cuomo put in place an eviction moratorium, which was extended through August 20th, and allowed tenants to use security deposits as payments until they can ante up the money at a later unspecified date. And many people have had to rely on food pantries to help them make ends meet. Long lines are reported at many of the pantries spread throughout NYC.


And to add to our economic woes, on a national level 3.8 million people missed their mortgage payments in April and another 1.6 million people missed their payments in May.


So, like the Corona Virus itself, the economic fallout will, in some measure, linger on indefinitely. The $2.5 trillion stimulus was meant to offset some of the losses, but as reported previously, the largest stimulus bill ever seemed crafted by a corrupt administration, as very wealthy people were given tax breaks which seemed not to have any real connection to the pandemic fallout. And Trump has since FIRED THREE INSPECTORS GENERAL, who would normally provide some transparency for what seems a lot of wasteful spending by the Republican president and his party, led by Senate Mouse Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


But then the Democrats, led by New Yorker Chuck Schumer and Californian Nancy Pelosi, went on to ask for trillions more, because they did such a poor job of negotiating the first couple of stimulus bills, where it appeared the special interest gorged themselves at the public trough [to be paid for by America’s babies and unborn children], while the state and municipal governments – those most impacted by the virus - seemed to be left with scraps.


As an example of what happened while we were all watching the pandemic unfold, the richest 1% reportedly increased their wealth by nearly a half trillion dollars, while most of the rest of the population lost ground.

The same is true for industry sectors. Retail, restaurants, hoteliers and gaming industries were hit pretty hard. A number of large retailers declared bankruptcy including Neiman Marcus, Pier 1 Imports, J Crew, and J.C. Penney is reportedly in talks to be sold to Amazon, which is trading near an all-time high.


The airlines received a $25 billion dollar bailout in the form of grants [66%] and loans [33%]. So the American taxpayer anted up for the airlines and we, the public, seemed to get nothing back. The Donald had relentlessly claimed he was a great negotiator while running in 2016, and yet it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel who seemed to be the toughest negotiator. She is working on a $9.7 billion bailout for German airline Lufthansa, but in exchange the public gets 20% of the airline stock and a poison pill to avert a takeover by a foreign / private entity trying to cash in on the public largesse. Hertz car rental also filed for bankruptcy.


Newspaper companies, which were already on the rocks, are also suffering. In 2019 about 3,400 journalists lost their jobs. Since the CoVid pandemic, 36,000 people working for newspapers [not just journalists so this is not an apples to apples comparison] lost their jobs or were laid off. Meanwhile the valuations on companies like Google and Facebook [who are eating newspapers lunch] are trading at [Facebook] or just below [-13%] their all time highs.


In several industry categories, the bricks and mortar players lost ground at an accelerating pace to the technology companies. And the same is true for many small businesses, which were already challenged by rising rents, limited pricing power, and now CoVid has delivered a gut punch too. According to the Small Business Administration small businesses make up 64% of new jobs, 49% of employment and 43% of payroll.


It’s going to be a changed and evolving landscape, so stay tuned.


Blog / Lifestyle & Miscellaneous More coming later this week.



Governor Cuomo to End NY Pause on 5/15 but ...

NYS Regions Must Meet Guidelines to Re-Open & While Some NYS Regions Qualify - We in NYC are Not Yet There

May 11, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs of May 15th the NY Pause program put in place by Governor Cuomo in mid March will come to an end. NY Pause was essentially a state-wide lockdown of residents and businesses deemed ‘non-essential’. We’ll have been in lockdown for two months.

 

NYS Regions Must Meet the Following Guidelines Prior to Re-Opening

But once the statewide lockdown ends on Friday, regional / municipal lockdowns will continue until such time as each region meets seven guidelines outlined by the Governor. The seven metrics that a region must meet are a two week decline in: 1) total hospitalizations, 2) new hospitalizations, 3) hospitalized deaths, and must have a 30% available share of 4) hospitalized beds and 5) Intensive Care Unit beds, and must have testing capacity / implementation of 6) 30 people per thousand monthly, and 7) 30 contact tracers per thousand in alignment with being able to follow up on potentially infected people.

 

Mayor Seems to Think Early June is Possible for NYC & Other Fun Facts about NYS Primary, Alternate Side Parking, Plastic Grocery Bags & Open Streets

Mayor de Blasio said he doesn’t think NYC will meet the NYS required metrics until June. In the meantime know that …

The NYS presidential primary [& state elections] is back on for June 23rd per a ruling by a Federal Court Judge Analisa Torres. The presidential primary election had been pushed back from it’s original April 23rd date by Governor Cuomo. Following the postponement the NYS Board of Elections cancelled the presidential primary portion of the election when Bernie Sanders suspended his campaign. Former Presidential candidate Andrew Yang contested the NYS Board of Election decision, saying it deprived delegates / voters of their Constitutional right. The judge noted that the rest of the election was slated to continue, and Cuomo signed an Executive Order enabling anyone who wants to vote by mail may do so.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe plastic grocery bag ban enforcement by the Department of Environmental Conservation has been moved back to June 15th. It was originally scheduled to take effect March 1st but enforcement has been pushed back a couple of times in recognition of the challenges posed by the Corona Virus.

Governor Cuomo announced that any and all eviction proceedings have been delayed until August 20th, 2020.

The Governor announced on April 26th that the L train repairs had been completed six months ahead of schedule.

Alternate Side Parking is suspended through Sunday, May 17th BUT THEN RETURNS for the week of May 18 – 24, 2020 to enable a CLEAN SWEEP of the city. The Alternate Side Parking suspension then resumes from May 25th to June 7th at which time things may possibly start returning to the ‘new’ normal.

NYC Open Streets began this past weekend [May 9 – 10, 2020]. The plan opens up 40 miles of streets from 8 am – 8 pm for people to use for biking, walking and practicing recreational activities in a socially distanced manner. These streets are usually used by motorized vehicles. They plan to possibly do this for a full 100 miles of streets sometime in the future. Click this link to view the listing of the open streets in each borough.

https://www1.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/pedestrians/openstreets.shtml

Best wishes for a good start to your second week of May.



CoVid Back to Work NYC – Part III

Mayor & Governor Attempt a Balancing Act Worthy of the Flying Wallendas

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMay 3, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC CoVid 19 Special Section / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Well, at least we had a pleasant weather weekend. People were out and about again in greater droves than they have been in about a month and a half. It was just nice to stretch one’s legs, soak in a bit of sunshine and see people again … albeit at a social distance.

Looking ahead the Mayor and Governor are in a tight spot, as people’s economic needs begin to weigh heavily upon them, given a second month of rent and other payments have come due. Thus these two intrepid leaders need to work out a path to economic recovery, while not letting up on keeping the evil CoVid virus in check. My intent here is to add my two cents in hopes of stimulating dialogue and actions in that direction.

 

Putting Things In Perspective

Let’s start with what has happened this past week. NYS CoVid Hospitalizations had skyrocketed to about 19,000 the week of April 13th, 2020. By this past weekend they had fallen to about 10,000 – nearly half of the peak.

At the time the Governor and Mayor, with federal government assistance, had put in place plans to accommodate the skyrocketing infected numbers, which as of April 13th had hit 195,000 people in New York State and about 107,000 in New York City. Today the cumulative totals for New York State are 318,000 and for New York City 177,000.

 

Brief History Of How Covid 19 Started In NYC & NYS

The first person identified with the CoVid virus, was a Manhattan healthcare worker who had picked it up overseas. She tested positive or it became publicly known on March 1st, 2020. A week and a half later, on March 10, 2020, Governor Cuomo set up a containment area in New Rochelle where there was a significant outbreak. The Governor’s NY Pause – essentially shutting down non-essential business – began evolving shortly thereafter.

 

NY PAUSE - Mid March 2020

Within about a week – by mid March - New York City and New York State were on pause. At first all major events were cancelled, then any large gathering of 500 people or more, then gatherings of 50 people or more, and then even restaurants and bars were required to close. This tightening happened at breakneck speed. And of course the NYS and NYC public school systems and all private schools shut down at that time. Only essential businesses and services were allowed to continue operating.

Shortly after we all went on Pause in mid March, Governor Cuomo began daily press briefings, to keep the public aware of what was happening. I started tuning in daily by March 21st and by that time – only three weeks after the first tested positive - there were 46,000 cases in NYS and nearly 21,000 in NYC. By that time it was dawning on us all, that we were in real trouble.

 

Adding Healthcare / ICU / Hospital Capacity

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysIn the last half of March, the Governor and Mayor set to work to increase the city and state hospital capacity, as at the time the forecasts were daunting. Thus the Jacob Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan was outfitted to become a pop up hospital with capacity that began at 1,000, moved up to 2,000 and by the time they realized that the NY Pause was working, they had made plans to enable the Javits Center to accommodate 2,500 beds. As it was, just over 1,000 patients were treated there, as today hospital capacity is again available. This was staffed by the National Guard and federally employees. The last patient exited the Javits Center on Saturday, May 2nd, 2020.

Both the Governor and the Mayor called upon the federal branches of government to assist with managing the crisis, which is part was caused by their ignorance and slow and error-laden response. That’s another story for another time. Anyhow, a floating hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, was sent to aid New York City. The ship had about a 1,000 bed capacity, or about a 750 CoVid patient capacity [social distancing]. By the time the USNS Comfort departed, on Thursday, April 30th, they had treated less than 200 patients, as the NY Pause initiative had effectively contained the outbreak.

There were other facilities put in place which we covered as they were springing up. Click here to read our report of over a month ago about NYC and NYS increase hospital capacity in preparation for the growth of CoVid 19 cases.

 

Late March - Flattening The Curve

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs we entered April things looked pretty bleak, except to me, as I was watching the growth in tested positives vis a vis the growth in testing. The two went up together, so I factored that into my growth expectations, while I imagine the experts were likely not discounting the growth rate for the growth in testing.

Click here to see our coverage of the flattening of the curve beginning March 31st.

By the end of that same week – the last week of March / first week of April – the Governor and Mayor were beginning to believe that the flattening had worked. This staved off some of the medium to worse case scenarios because the people of New York City and New York State took the threat of the CoVid crisis seriously and stayed home. Whew.

 

Managing PPE, Ventilators & Hospital Beds As Capacity Peaked

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThroughout the month of April we all watched as the city and state healthcare workers and institutions grappled with a full capacity load of patients who had an infectious, potentially life-threatening illness, and generally speaking the city, state and worst of all – the federal government was unprepared and flat footed in their response.

Thus we all learned about PPE or personal protective equipment and its lack of availability. We learned about the ICU or intensive care units and key equipment like respirators / ventilators. And we learned about how stressed the healthcare system was in managing through all of this.

The Governor and Mayor asked and received some federal help in the form of the docking of the USNS Comfort, which is a navy hospital ship and the staffing of a pop up hospital at the Javits Center. But the preparations to add hospital bed capacity didn't end there, as the Governor and Mayor ramped up a facility in Central Park in Manhattan and another at the USTA Center in Queens.

Meanwhile, back in the stay at home / self quarantines, the rest of us were dealing with social distancing, being caged in our homes, a few out of stocks in things like toilet paper, or we had to switch from our usual selection of branded products to whatever was in stock. But those annoyances were mild compared to what was to come.

 

Unemployment, Food Lines, Financial & Psychological Stress

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMany were and are facing food shortages and are financially strapped as they have no income and no savings. The rent and loan payments keep coming due, everyone still needs to keep the power on, and put food on the table – let alone deal with anything unexpected.

As of this past week, over 30 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance – and this is AFTER the government spent trillions keeping people on the payroll. Herbert Hoover, who presided over the beginning of the Great Depression, entered office with a 3.2% unemployment rate and left office four years later with unemployment at nearly 25%. The Donald entered office with an historically low unemployment rate of about 4%, and in the last report, the unemployment rate was about 19%.

I’ve noticed when I’m out reporting that a number of people are really on edge. So I advise folks proceed a bit more cautiously and patiently when out in public. The masks mandate really doesn’t help in this regard, as some folks have turned into uninformed mask enforcer vigilantes.

 

Stimulus Package - Robbing America’s Children’s Future

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo the federal government passed several whopping fiscal stimulus bills, where they borrowed trillions from the piggy bank of America’s children, to finance what seemed, in part, to be Donald Trump’s re-election plan. The Trump Administration doled out trillions in cash and sadly a good portion of it went to selfish interests, including some of Trump's own.

 

In another Trump first for bad behavior by an American President - the dispassionate Donald made desperate Americans wait a couple of extra days for the federal stimulus checks - so he could have his Treasury Secretary Mnuchin put the Trump name on the stimulus checks.

 

Meanwhile both the Mayor and the Governor are confronted with tough fiscal choices, as the city and state revenue has declined precipitously, as state and municipal expenses climbed due to efforts made to deal with the CoVid crisis.

 

Late April Things Improve

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo in the latter half of April we started watching the CoVid crisis slow down, as more people came off respirators than went on them [although enough of them also died on the respirators and continue to contribute to that declining number], and while people continued dying from CoVid, it was at lower and lower numbers. Both of these metrics are the lagging indicators.

But the leading indicators also began falling in the second half of April. The number of people who tested positive fell from a high on April 15th at less than 12,000, to a weekly rolling average of about 5,000 per day this past week [ending May 2nd]. And the hospitalization rate fell from about 19,000 on April 13th to about 10,000 today.

So all indicators are generally pointing in the right direction, and have been doing so for about two weeks. So why not get back to work right away? Because we have to open the city and state smartly or we’ll not just be back where we were – but possibly even worse - because the healthcare system and professionals have been working under duress non-stop for a month or more.

 

Getting Back To Work – Starting With Infrastructure

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysBoth the Mayor and Governor are working assiduously to get us back to work, but safely. How are they doing that? One of the first big steps is that effective May 6th, 2020 the MTA subway system is going to be closed down from 1 am – 5 am so that the subway cars can be sanitized.

If you think about the city [and state for that matter] as if it were a human, there’s no quicker way to spread a disease than by using the transportation infrastructure - most notably the subway. Conversely, it seems one of the quickest ways to contain a disease is to stop its spread via the transportation system / subway. Thus the collaborative and concerted actions of the Governor and the Mayor appear headed in that direction. Bravo.

Click here to see our report identifying the MTA subway system as a CoVid hazard.

Anyhow, by the beginning of May, the Governor confirmed that the public school system academic year would end online – not in the schools. Long lines continued forming at stores where masks are now required to enter. Banking and financial institutions have been overwhelmed with calls related to the fiscal stimulus checks as well as all sorts of people needing financial help. And this had to be done, while the banks shortened hours – some due in part to the many snafus by the Trump Administration in the handling of the stimulus bill execution because at least one computer system crashed and there were reportedly a myriad of a number of smaller snafus.

 

Many TV News Reports Seem about as Vetted as Social Media

People are staying up later as they don’t have to get up to shower and commute to work the next day, unless they’re an essential worker. So while free TV hasn’t been interesting in a long time - now, when it’s most needed - it seems to suck on an extraordinary level. And while many people have been able to collect their regular paycheck by telecommuting / teleworking, others must be feeling about as anxious as one possibly can – having no money, no work, behind in rent by one or two months, not sure if they have a job or will have a job, and to top it off no haircut in a couple months time.

So, not unexpectedly, with empty streets and people really hurting, some crimes have risen, but that’s not really unexpected ... is it?

 

The Future - Possible Therapies & Gauging the Economy

Start by Recognizing Covid is Likely Here To Stay for a While

So what does the future look like? Predicting things is at best a precarious science, but I’ve made a few observations, which I’d like to share.

 

I. The Tenuous Promise of a Warm Weather Cure

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysLet’s start with the first one - which quite honestly I’m not sure we can very accurately judge at this time – and that’s whether the Corona Virus will be with us for a long time to come.

Some folks thought that it would behave like the flu and disappear during the warmer weather. If that were the case, then why are Brazil and India, both WARM WEATHER NATIONS, ramping UP THE CURVE, rather than flattening or coming off the curve?

This should cause one to proceed slowly.

 

II. No Fairytales & No Magic Pill or Spray

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe other aspect of this are the proposed cures, therapies and vaccines. Sometimes watching the TV news it seems like the Wild West, where we hear from a plethora of TV news teleprompter readers, who don't seem to understand what it is they’re saying, seeming to repeat things without providing context and without verifying source facts.

I’ve reported on some of the proposed vaccines and therapies in a prior report – click here for CoVid therapies and vaccines. The gist of it is that while we are very technologically advanced, it takes a while not just to discover a molecular combination therapy, but quite a while longer to understand whether it works, why it works and whether it is safe for use on the general population. To ensure efficacy and safety, clinical trials are done to measure the potential impact on various vaccine recipients or patients, depending on their baseline health, as well as what other drugs they are taking.

Ironically in late April, an over the counter medicine, Pepcid, was reported as potentially helpful to treating the Corona Virus. A friend of mine reported that it had sold out online before I had even heard the news. That's how crazy things have gotten.

Science is not as easy as the Donald portrays it to be. You can’t just spray Lysol into your lungs to cure yourself [you'll poison yourself], and one of the drugs he’s promoted, Hydroxychloroquine, was tested in a Brazil clinical trial. In that trial the anti-malarial drug is believed to have triggered heart problems where patients died. Because of the deaths, they ended the Brazilian clinical trial.

 

Science isn't for Simpletons – Vaccines Take Time & So Do Therapies

So what are the real therapy options? One is a vaccine. But the fastest vaccine ever developed was for polio in the 1950’s and that took four years. Now drug development has come a long way – but it was over a half century ago that a vaccine was developed in such a ‘short’ period of time. So when people estimate it will take 12 – 18 months to gain access to a workable CoVid 19 vaccine, know that this is an optimistic scenario. Not that it can’t be done or someone won’t beat it – but the facts are four years for the fastest developed vaccine and that was 50 years ago.

And then there’s Remdesivir by Gilead Sciences. I’ve read conflicting reports. The Chinese were said to have conducted a clinical trial and it wasn’t successful. But the pronouncements and announcements by the Chinese government seem to be as unreliable as the Donald and Fox News. So maybe it doesn’t work, but Gilead is moving ahead with an FDA fast tracked clinical trial. Anecdotally one of the first patients in Washington state recovered using it. But a sample size of one doesn’t mean much per se, because we don’t know if that patient would have recovered anyhow. Clinical trials have control patients so one can determine the difference between treatment / no treatment.

 

Underlying Health Conditions – Vulnerable Populations In America

I did a quick analysis, to see how many Americans may have one of the UNDERLYING HEALTH CONDITIONS that makes them vulnerable to getting severely ill or dying from CoVid 19. I did this to get a sense of the complexity that has to be managed in finding an effective therapy or vaccine to combat the virus, AND also to gauge how many people are going to be at risk in the ‘new normal’ as we collectively resume our livelihoods. If large numbers of people are vulnerable to contracting the disease and dying from it, they're going to be a whole lot more cautious until some remedy is found.

Needless to say, the following statistics on the health of America are daunting. It’s easy to see why national opinion polls show that a large majority of Americans are interested in putting in place a public health program like Obamacare. The Donald failed to repeal and replace Obamacare. But he did work hard on the repeal end of it, as he made efforts to dismantle various aspects of Obamacare over the past four years.

Please note that in what follows, there is overlap among these groups, as the same person may have more than one of these conditions.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThere are 328 million Americans.

Of those, 127 million Americans [40% of the population] have some form of Cardiovascular Disease, of which 103 million have high blood pressure [2018 Heart.org] and of which another 24 million who have some other form of heart disease besides high blood pressure [2016 American Heart Association].

As for Respiratory Diseases, 25 million Americans have asthma [aafa.org which is the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America - circa 2016]. There are 34 million American adults [14% of adults] who are cigarette smokers, of which 16 million have a smoking related disease [2018 CDC.gov]. And these may be many of the same people, but there are 17 million Americans who are cancer survivors [2019 cancer.gov].

As for underlying health issues, there are another 70 million Americans who are obese, which includes 40% of U.S. adults [2016 Wikipedia]. Another 34 million Americans have diabetes - of which 7 million have not yet been diagnosed [diabetesresearch.org].

And lastly, as for compromised immune systems not related to what’s noted above, there are 1.1 million Americans who have AIDS [2016 HIV.gov] and there are 49 million Americans who are over the age of 65 [2016 ACI.gov - Administration for Community Living].

It’s probable that almost EVERY AMERICAN has family members, friends or business associates who has one or more of the underlying conditions. And for Americans with these underlying conditions, catching CoVid 19 could potentially be a death sentence.

So this has implications for the development of an effective vaccine and / or therapy - as clinical trials are designed to evaluate how things work in the general population to ensure that the ‘cure’ isn’t worse than the condition. But these underlying health conditions also have implications for how people will, and possibly should, move forward economically if they don't want to lose a loved one.


The Implications – Living With Risk & Managing It

The Flying Wallendas Tight Rope Act

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo, while what I've reported above is bad news, it’s better to be aware of it and deal with it, than to ignore it and suffer the consequences. The implications are that we can’t wait to defeat the Corona Virus before we return to work and play – so we have to manage it. That’s where the Governor and the Mayor have to do what the flying Wallendas were so well known – walking along a tight rope – where the consequences of failure are tragic.

Karl Wallenda was an acrobat / tightrope walker. He began his notoriety in Madison Square Garden in 1928 when he walked the tightrope without a net underneath to catch him, as the net had been lost in transit. For fifty years he walked the rope until he took a misstep in 1978 and fell to his death. Let us hope we’re so lucky, as he was 73 at the time and that was 50 years of walking that rope.

Anyhow, back to Cheyenne.

So CoVid 19 is probably here to stay for a while, and it's likely we’re not going to have access to a therapy for a while [although it’s always possible]. So we can’t afford to wait for CoVid 19 to go away before we get back to work. Thus, we have to manage the health risks of returning to work - prior to the virus eradication and prior to having access to a workable therapy - as we all need to feed and shelter ourselves.


CDC Workplace Guidelines

So the CDC guidelines include things like stay at home if you’re sick, cover your mouth when you cough, social distancing, wash your hands, and keep the surfaces you touch regularly clean. The CDC has issued some workplace guidelines which you can review using this link - https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/businesses-employers.html

I scanned about half or more of the articles – some of which were industry specific like for food processing plants and grocery stores, while others were a bit more generic. I didn’t see anything specific for restaurants, bars and other retail outlets.

 

Local Businesses Improvise

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMany local employers have taken the initiative to proactively protect their workers. A few weeks ago my local grocer set up plastic see through barriers at check outs, provided their employees with masks, and within the past couple weeks started requiring all customers to start wearing masks about a week ago and limited the number of people in the store at one time. I also saw this at my local pharmacy. A friend of mine told me that his temperature is checked with a no touch device before he is let into shop.

Governor of New Jersey has started outlining guidelines for restaurants, mandating social distancing by limiting restaurant capacity to 25% of the old normal. Given we're heading into the warmer weather he is also working to enable restaurants to serve outdoors in order to expand restaurant capacity [CHECK].

 

Law - Define Workplace Safety Guidelines so Employers & Employees Know What is a NEED to Have vs a NICE to Have

I think they should consolidate the learning into easier to understand / implement key points. And they might want to figure out what is required by law, versus what are recommended guidelines, so the lawsuits don’t start flying after this settles down.

 

Testing Issues & Limitations

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThere’s been much debate about testing. Quite simply it ‘s a mess. There are over a hundred tests on the market at present, but only eight of which have received some sort of FDA approval. Hence many tests are reportedly showing both false positives [you have it] and false negatives [you have it but the test says you don’t].

Testing was one of the many early failures by the Trump Administration as they shunned using the World Health Organization test, so they could make America First. They were successful in some measure as America is #1 worldwide in CoVid infections and deaths.

After that delay, the Trump Administration CDC made their own test and sent it out, but it was flawed, so they had to recall it and try again. Now they continue to tell Americans that anyone who wants a test can have it [still not completely true but it's not the lie it was a few weeks ago]. What they don’t tell you is that while you can get a test, they don’t have enough reagents to actually process the test, so you can't get your results back ... least not quickly.

The reagents situation is likely to be fixed in the very near future, as they should be able to ramp test reagents production to full scale. But for many of the tests, the accuracy of them is still an unknown, as only eight of over 100 tests on the market were approved by the FDA.

I think more testing will help, but I don’t see it as the pancea that others seem to think it is. I think you have to go at the CoVid 19 virus on a number of fronts, which also includes public education, and an added effort vis a vis human-to-human and human-to-surface interactions.


Managing Expectations - At Risk Populations Vis A Vis Covid 19

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysGiven the above guidelines, which are likely to be in place for a while, we need to recalibrate our economic expectations. This affects most everything.

Let’s start by reviewing the number of people in the at risk populations – meaning people who could actually lose their lives if they catch CoVid 19. As I pointed out above, it’s not a short list.

Given these vulnerable people could actually lose their lives if they contracted CoVid 19, how likely do you think they are going to resume their normal activity / spending? My guess is that these folks aren’t as likely to get together for dinner or drinks, or go on trips or vacations, or big weddings or funerals, or many cultural events until things settle down.

Big parties and events are likely going to be socially distanced / managed affairs, and vulnerable CoVid populations [people with underlying health conditions outlined above] are less likely to attend, and rightfully so. They’re going to have to proceed cautiously, as they risk their own mortality ... and people around them, who love and care for them, should proceed with caution as well.

 

Simple Chores have Become a Big Pain in the Ass

Then there’s the social distancing. Everything has become a big pain in the ass. Going to the grocery or liquor store requires wearing a mask and waiting in line to get in, going to the bank where hours have been shortened and personnel aren’t available has become frustrating, going out of the house where every time you leave you have to don a mask and everytime you return you have to wash your hands, and possibly wash whatever you picked up, and so forth, has made life a lot less pleasant.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo the CoVid pandemic is going to put a damper on things for a while, possibly a long while. Thus, we must adjust our economic expectations. Right now a whopping 30 million plus Americans are out of work. Even Herbert Hoover didn’t hit these high numbers before he lost his job as U.S. President when the Great Depression swooped in.

Many of the unemployed may be out of a job for a long while. Restaurants, hotels and travel will do less business because of social distancing, and cautious vulnerable populations staying close to home for a while. Autos and gas are likely to suffer as people will likely move around less. Many tenants have not been able to keep up with rent, and many home owners are having trouble keeping up with mortgage payments. Many incomes have been reduced as businesspeople adjust their cost structure to line up with with reduced business revenue.

Because for the past couple of months we've been preoccupied with the CoVid 19 virus itself, I'm not sure the full effect of the economic impact of CoVid 19 has set in. The $2.5 trillion in stimulus should buffer things, as it represents a proportionate share of economic loss during the time we've been and are likely to be locked down, but there was plenty of pork in those bills that wasn't necessary - like the tax break for real estate people like the Donald.

 

Financial Fallout - The $2.5 Trillion Stimulus Seemed Corrupt

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe economic implications of the CoVid 19 pandemic will begin to creep into the financial industry calculus, as expectations are recalibrated. Many categories of business like hotels, restaurants and bricks and mortar retailers, strapped consumers credit card debt, small businesses, tenants and possibly even some over leveraged landlords are going to have trouble climbing out of this hole. It's possible, and maybe even likely that many simply won’t make it, which has further implications. In economics it's called the multiplier effect, which is essentially a ripple effect.

Real estate may even take a hit as tenants can’t afford to pay rent, while mortgage and business defaults refocus banking efforts on managing / limiting exposure. Hence, in spite of low rates, folks may not want to make a huge investment or take on risk in these uncertain times, while all levels of government will be contending with their gaping deficits, which has implications for cutting government spending and the possibility of raising some taxes. Again, there will be a ripple effect through other segments of the economy.

 

And while the rank and file folks suffer, the Donald gave the airlines a big bailout, and he is reportedly considering a bailout for the fossil fuel industry.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysI'm so sorry that I’m notcheery here. But thinking through these things helps one prepare for the future. Forewarned is forearmed. I don’t think the new normal – which is that we’re living in uncertain times – has yet to sink in as we’re only now beginning to look at grappling with the economic fallout.

Even if the virus subsides, which it seems to be doing, the grey clouds surrounding it will keep things dampened for a while. This is in spite of the trillions of dollars in stimulus, as well as the trillions of dollars in liquidity that the Federal Reserve has reportedly pumped into the financial system. Many health professionals are concerned that next fall could be chaotic as the flu season returns ... possibly in tandem with CoVid 19 ... and again straining the capacity of the healthcare system.

While the trillions of dollars helped, it seemed loaded with pork and corruptly managed. The Donald fired one of the watchdogs overseeing the federal stimulus package spending. Hence, because of that, I am not sure that all this money will solve our problems this time.

Absent effective leadership at the top, state and municipal government officials must balance the risks of good economic health with public health, while simultaneously balancing our civil liberties with our safety. This is no simple balancing act, as the flying Wallendas well know.

Good leadership helps, and that is what both NYC and NYS seem to have right now. Unfortunately on the national level we seem to have come up really short.

 

FYI – Schools Remain Closed, Evictions Suspended thru 7/1, MTA Cleaning Effective Mid Week, Slowly Opening Economies

Governor Cuomo confirmed / announced that NYC and NYS Public school systems are officially closed through the academic year. He also said that any eviction proceedings would be suspended through June.

Mayor de Blasio announced that Alternate Side Parking has been suspended / extended through May 14th. And that City Streets II would go into effect by Monday, if not before, to provide added open space for folks. Few took advantage of it last time, but perhaps things have changed.

Sanitizing the MTA subway was a good start toward preparing us for a return to work and play. The CDC guidelines for workplace safety help too, but it seems they're not done as they need to simplify the guidelines for public consumption and add categories like restaurants and bars.

Some of the small business efforts like taking no touch temperatures and socially distancing store cutomers seem intelligent and likely will become a part of the new normal. The NJ Governor’s plan to start re-opening with parks seems a cautious way to gauge how well people are going to fall in line on the social distancing guidelines, while monitoring the CoVid 19 testing numbers, before opening up other categories of activities.

The NJ Governor’s plan to limit restaurants to 25% of capacity, while providing expanded outdoor space seems like a good managed work / play resumption move. Airlines have started requiring passengers to wear masks. Both of these strategies are already in place at my local grocery store, where we wait in a line outside to be let in and must wear a mask.

I think the government needs to do a better job of focusing people’s attention to stepped up cleaning efforts [not included in many CoVid ads by Drs. Oxiris Barbot (NYC) and Howard Zucker (NYS)]. But that said, the last time I visited the pharmacy, the cleaning products section had been pretty well emptied, so many folks have already figured this out on their own.

A Final Word for this Monday, May 4th, 2020

Life is full of risk. People get sick and die every day. Sickness and death are a part of life.

And while I worry greatly about those I love who are at greater risk, the whole of society can’t wait until this threat goes away, or shut down again if another one arrives. So we all have to do what we can to protect those at risk by being mindful of the virus / germs, and doing our best to mitigate the spread of them, and manage our interactions with vulnerable people. And on the other hand, we also have to begin moving forward, albeit carefully and cautiously, while monitoring the health implications of our economic progress.

Best wishes for a good start to the first week in May.



Many NYC Farmers Markets are Open

Farmers Markets are Essential Businesses, Provide Fresh Food & a Nice Outing

manhattan farmers markets manhattan green markets manhattan nycMay 1, 2020 / NYC Shopping / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Last weekend, on Saturday, I ventured out to enjoy the beautiful weather. I was not alone, as for the first time in a month and a half there were a number of people moving about the neighborhood.

I headed down to the farmers market to see what that looked like under the new normal. The food looked fresh, and there was plenty of it - although this was in mid morning.

The experience wasn't much different than what you'd expect. People wore face masks and there were lines created by social distancing. I was glad to see that farmers markets are essential businesses, as it augments a strained food supply chain, and provides folks with an opportunity to get out of the house in about as safe an environment as you can get. Here's a link to the dates, times, locations and selection of the 2020 Queens farmers markets, Staten Island Farmers Markets, Brooklyn Farmers Markets, Manhattan Farmers Markets and Bronx Farmers Markets.

I can't say people were smiling, not just because their faces were covered by masks, but there's been a gradual mood deterioration as we pass the second rent due date of the CoVid pandemic. Many people aren't standing in the farmers market social distancing line, but rather standing in food pantry lines. And for many, their economic fates are up for grabs, as we collectively try to navigate our way back to work. Many believe that economic activity is likely to be dampened by the CoVid pandemic for some time to come.

On the bright side, the Governor and the Mayor announced plans to begin daily sanitization of the MTA subway system beginning Wednesday, May 6th. The plan is to close the terminal stations of the subway lines from 1 am to 5 am, daily - providing shuttle buses to and from the last stop for passengers. And then, in those four wee hours of the morning, the NYPD and NYC social services will swoop into clear out the homeless population that has started making the subway their new home. It seems a good and humane plan.

Sanitizing the subway lines should go a long way toward preparing us to get back to the new normal by helping to dampen - if not eradicate - the transmission of the CoVid virus. This collaborative effort by both the Mayor and the Governor will help all of us to get back to work and play. So things are moving in the right direction, albeit not at a viral pace.

Have a nice weekend. The weather is going to be in the 70's during the day and 50's at night. And no rain, but some clouds.



Through Wind, Snow, Rain, Sleet & CoVid - Education Goes On

Or … the Wild and Whacky World of Online Learning in the Age of CoVid

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 27, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

 

As we anxiously await the return to the new normal, being bombarded by repetitious daily TV newscasts, the Donald’s Daily Disinformation Show, and what seems Rupert Murdoch’s unending propaganda in the Wall Street Journal and on Fox News, there are a few bright spots, but you have to look for them.

I thought the migration from school classrooms might be one of them, so I set out to find out what that experience felt like to both educators and students at the elementary, high school and college levels. As I interviewed only two students and two teachers, this is an anecdotal report about the migration from classroom to computer.

The mass migration began the week beginning March 9th, 2020. College students around the nation, including the CUNY and SUNY systems, were told their classes were being discontinued and they were instructed to pack their things and return home. By the start of the next week, beginning March 16th, NYC public elementary and high schools were also closed. Private schools more or less closed their doors in tandem with the public schools.

During that week of disbandment, the world of education began a mad scramble to figure out how to continue the education process – without classrooms, schools and interpersonal contact. This was not a mean feat.

Nonetheless, educators scrambled, ramped up to speed using interactive platforms like Zoom and Google Hang Out, which includes Google Meet & Chat, and Google Docs. The educators also started figuring out how replace lectures and moderated classroom discussions by using videos and presentations / documents.

Based on the four interviews I conducted, it seems there wasn’t any one formula used, but rather a whole slew of different approaches. Teachers used more different approaches to online learning – depending not just on the subject matter - but also on the audience aka the class.

 

College Professor’s Experience Migrating Online

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThomas Bolin is a religious studies professor at a small liberal arts college. He teaches three classes – one is about American Evangelicalism, which examines the changing face of religion in America. He teaches two classes of Ancient Wisdom, which examines Biblical, Roman and Egyptian philosophies. This course ends with each student creating their own personal philosophy.

Professor Bolin said he started by taking a technology inventory of his students including computer and internet access. The real technological issue wasn’t access to devices as nearly everyone has a smart phone and computer but rather access to internet with enough bandwidth at the times needed.

After he’d completed the technology inventory, he set out devising a teaching game plan. To that end he began developing videos, which he posted so that the students could access asynchronously – meaning on their timeframe. His reasoning was that as some of his students lived in different time zones, and some had issues accessing high speed internet at home because of shared bandwidth and devices, this would enable all to keep pace with their classroom peers.

He said he receives a slew of student emails after each video post, which he answers personally. He said he also checks in with each of his students at least once per week.

Professor Bolin also said that he began creating reading guides for many of the assigned readings to initiate interaction, circular discussions and he paired student to interact.

I asked him if he was working more or less these days. He said more … that the five day week had become a continuous stream of seven day weeks … that work filling his days has become like gas filling a room.

He noted that it’s far more difficult to tell how plugged in each student is to the subject matter. He said that it was likely for that reason that Princeton went to Pass / Fail when they initiated the migration from in class to online. He opined that in spite of the additional work he’s had to do, the students were likely getting a reduced educational experience. And hence, he reasoned, the pass / fail is a means of acknowledging the reduced expectations.

I’m paraphrasing but he said something like, “Education is learning about and through community, interpersonal interactions, which ultimately lead to growth. That’s not something that can be well replicated online.”


Manhattan College Student’s Experience Migrating to Online Learning

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysI then checked in with Lily, a college sophomore at a northeastern liberal arts college, to get a sense of the online learning experience from the student perspective. Lily was taking a wide variety of humanities and social science classes including Philosophy, Political Science, International Relations, French Narratives and one focused on the Linguistics of the Silk Road.

Lily’s school made the decision to send students home the week beginning March 9th and it sounded like they knew the semester was over for the school year. The students had a week to move out and get ready to continue classes online about a week later.

Some of her classes were given via Zoom at the pre-scheduled times, continuing online the program they’d planned for the classrooms. But others were done as described by Professor Bolin, where materials and lectures were delivered asynchronously so the students could access the content on their schedules.

The Zoom classes are lectures with student / teacher interactive capability. The teacher can call on students to participate while online and students can raise their hands in Zoom to be recognized for comments and questions. For a couple of her classes, she’s had to give presentations online.

Assignments given as per usual and most are reading based. The students turn in their assignments online and she also took an exam online. It was done live over the course of one and a half hours. The exam was not multiple choice, but rather an open book using short answers and two essays.

Lily said she was struggling to get her work done and oftentimes leaves things for the last minute – something she had not while in attendance in person at school.

She noted that there’s no separation between relaxation and studying. So there’s a loss of motivation and it’s easy to get distracted. She told me that, the “Perceived amount of infinite time makes you want to do less”. This seemed to echo Professor Bolin's sentiment about gas expanding to fill a room.

And she misses her peer group interactions, as she would be talking about her studies with her friends at school. But now, with social distancing, there’s less to talk about events wise with friends.

Lily told me that her school had moved to pass / fail grading. She said that not being graded diminishes the incentive to perform, because even if you do perform, you’ll never know how well you did. She said, “Pass / Fail is an option for tuning out”.

She told me that if this continues into the Fall, many of her friends say they will consider skipping a semester or two until the teaching comes back to the classroom.

 

NYC High School Sophmore’s Experience Migrating to Online Learning

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysEthan is a sophomore at an NYC high school. He’s taking Algebra II, Conceptual Physics, British Literature, Spanish and World History II. It’s amazing to me how sophisticated the high school curriculum is, which I hear a lot of parents saying too, as they’re being asked to assist in educating their children.

His school ended during the middle of that fateful week beginning March 9th. His school had a spring break coming, so they kept the break and classes resumed on schedule, online, in the same time period they would have if CoVid 19 had not swept the city.

Ethan’s class schedule was reduced to Mondays and Wednesdays. The other three days the teachers are available for one on one interactions. I asked him if he’d taken advantage of the increased one on one teacher access and he said not really.

Ethan’s school uses Google Hang Out as the electronic teaching platform, but they supplement the platform with others as well. The classroom days are filled with live lectures as well as chalkboard type presentations.

One of the websites they use is called Kahoot, which is a game based learning platform where the users can create pop quizzes with social interaction via multiple user chalkboards. Another website Ethan mentioned was QuizLet which uses a flash card method for various subjects that are created by the users to aid students learning in a manner not unlike the paper flashcards of way-back-when. I was told that this website is a very useful aid in preparing for tests.

Ethan said he was not quizzed in class like prior to the CoVid classroom to online migration, but that his homework load had increased. He said he’s working harder, but less efficiently which seemed to echo Professor Bolin’s remark on the teaching side. They’re both putting in more effort, but getting less productivity out of it.

As a high school student, one of the things Ethan misses most is the social interaction with his peers. He said before the CoVid outbreak he would get up in the morning and get moving along with the rest of the city. He would use mass transit, walk, enter the school where the student body was milling about and then enter a classroom for face to face with the teacher and his fellow students.

Now he gets up, sometimes he doesn’t even get dressed and takes his first class in his pajamas. Then he sits in front of the computer pretty much all day watching his classes online. There’s little variation and little stimulus and he misses the social interaction. He told me that he goes to class, watches Netflix, and does his homework all in same spot. And that he doesn’t like it.

He said he doesn’t interact with his friends as much since the CoVid shutdown, because there’s less to talk about that’s not the same, and you don’t have the shared everyday experiences of being in the same place at the same time.

The homework is largely the same. Except for Math and Physics the homework is done on the Khan Academy website. The Khan Academy is full of videos and short learning tools that help educators teach and students learn.

Ethan said that he wishes he was still in school. He said the online experience was dissatisfying. He noted that the lack of social interaction was hard to live with, and that it was also hard to learn when you’re attending just two days per class per week. It’s also frustrating because Ethan said he and his fellow students will have to catch up on what they missing now, after this pandemic is all over.

 

Elementary School Teacher’s Experience Migrating to Online Teaching

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMegan Bolin is an elementary school reading specialist in a small private school in the Midwest. Her job is to work with kids who have trouble reading and writing English through what she calls interventions. Most of the work she does is one on one and it’s with kids who are not at the top of the socio-economic ladder.

While the school ensured all kids had computers, many of them don’t have access to internet hookups. Some have parents who are working in essential services and take their internet with them, leaving the kids without internet access during the day. So while they could possibly find a place near a local library or Starbucks to do their homework, in pragmatic terms it’s not realistically feasible.

Hence, as a result of the CoVid shutdown, Megan informed me that many of these kids have sort of fallen off the grid, as they’re struggling to keep up with their regular classes – let alone trying to keep up with an interventionist / extra course.

But for those who are in a position to keep their learning progress moving, Megan uses Google Meet. She works with the kids mostly one on one and using a combination of video and text documents, works with the kids in real time on developing their language skills.

She said that while she was working with a smaller student population, she found herself putting in the same hours. Her school has continued teacher meetings too, as they have found it beneficial to share their experiences and the different approaches they’ve been using to keep the kids engaged. The efforts are a mix of videos, games, quizzes and challenges.

She said the uncertainty of the first announcements, with an indefinite return to school date, lead to an approach of keeping things fresh, so that pending their return to school, they could pick things up again. But once it became clear that there wasn’t to be a return to school this year, she began focusing on moving the kids ahead to where they need to be by year end.

Given Megan's interactions with the kids are mostly one on one interactions - of the four folks I interviewed - she seemed most optimistic about what could be achieved via online learning. That's with a big asterisk for those who in essence drop out because of technological and online schooling limitations / complications.

Regardless of the grading system the schools of the other interviewees changed to, grades likely play less a role in what Megan teaches – reading / language fluency [grades seem to be more a concern at the college level]. And since the classes are live one-on-one sessions [or two to five at most] – it’s hard for the students to wrangle out of the work. But because of the technology limitations, only about half as many students will benefit.

So what does it all mean? It means that teachers are doing the best they can, but they acknowledge that it’s far from optimal. The students also seem to appreciate what they once had via attending class with in person teachers.

All of them - both teachers and students - said they missed school and were looking forward to a return to normal.

 

Pink Floyd’s ‘We Don’t Need No Education’ & 'The Wall'

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysIn 1979 the British rock group Pink Floyd came out with a new album entitled The Wall. The album was in part, the personal expression of two of the bandmembers' experience growing up. The Wall is described in Wikipedia as,

"... a rock opera that explores Pink, a jaded rockstar whose eventual self-imposed isolation from society is symbolized by a wall ..."

We Don't Need No Education is one of the tunes on the album. It wasn't a protest song against education, per se, but rather the rocker's issues with an individual strict teacher. He describes his negative experience with his teacher as another brick in the psychological wall he had built around himself.

I mention this because during the CoVid crisis we're all sort of building walls around our lives, as we wait for this pandemic to end, in relative walled isolation.

Building walls instead of bridges isn't good for most of us. The world was built on bridges - the exchange of ideas, the trade of goods and services, and the transference of art and culture. We do need education, but We Don't Need No Education does have a good beat and a message obscured by its language. I suppose one might say that's because the rocker's learning experience failed him ... but it takes two to learn ... an educated and thoughtful teacher and a receptive and intelligent student. And one of the things we're learning from the CoVid pandemic is that it seems generally to help when there's a real human connection.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAe_w9a_IN8



CoVid Crisis – Back to Work Part II

Jury Rigging / Do It Yourself Methods to Get Back to Work

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 24, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

NY Pause Continues Through May 15th Pending an Update

First a couple of announcements were made the past couple of weeks which hint at when we will begin returning to the new normal. With hospitalizations declining / stabilizing and intubations and new positives declining, Governor Cuomo extended NY Pause to May 15th, which keeps open essential businesses, but closes the non-essential businesses until such time as there’s enough slack in the healthcare system / hospitals to accommodate any sort of resurgence in Corona Virus patients that may occur as a result of the re-opening.

Governor Cuomo told the Donald NYC and NYS wouldn't need the USNS Comfort any longer, as the emergency crisis has subsided. As noted in an earlier report, the build out at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal was put on hold, pending a more definitive direction in the CoVid hospitalization numbers. The photo above shows a retailer temperature screening customers before they enter the store [photo credit Dantanyan].

 

Large Public NYC Events Cancelled thru May

Biggest Events in June Aren’t Likely to Occur & NYC Public Pools will Likely Remain Closed Through the Summer

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs mentioned previously, Mayor de Blasio seemed to think that the NYC public school system will remain closed through the end of this school year. The Mayor also said that large public gatherings won’t resume until at least June 1st, and even after, that the three largest public events in NYC in June [the Israel Parade, the Puerto Rican Parade and the Gay Pride Parade in both Manhattan and Queens] aren’t likely to take place this year - but no final decision has yet been made. Other large public events including street fairs and other parades will not take place through May and there will be an update before then about what happens beginning in June.

The Mayor also said that NYC public pools will likely not open this summer because of the challenges of keeping people socially distanced / safe from the spread of the Corona Virus. Also, the Plastic Bag ban enforcement was pushed back to May 15th some time ago. As of this report, that enforcement date still stands, but like so much related to the CoVid 19 crisis, the date could be extended further. And the special election for Queens Borough President was cancelled and will be held in tandem with the NYS primary and general election. Lastly, the Macy's 4th of July Fireworks are still planned, but like everything this Spring, is still subject to change.

 

Proms, Moms, Grads & Dads Days Likely to be Personal - Not Public - Events

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysUnfortunately for this years prom class of juniors and seniors in high school, and elementary, high school and college graduates around the nation – the celebrations are likely to be online or very, very small. It doesn’t have to be any less meaningful, and maybe made even more so, because of this unique moment in time. The same is true for Moms and Dads, whose special days arrive in May and June respectively. Mothers Days were oftentimes a time to venture out to eat, but this year is more likely a time to order in, while Dad’s Day was a unique men’s shops opportunity, which could still happen – albeit under the pall of a strained economy and finances.

And the 50th Earth Day passed us by without much fanfare owing to the distraction of the Corona Virus.

The rest of this report focuses on what we can do to begin the journey back to the new normal, recognizing that the Corona Virus is likely with us for some time to come.

 

Origination of the Virus Spread – Sick People & Coughing

People can become infected with the Corona Virus without knowing for days. The incubation period is estimated to be between one and fourteen days, before someone realizes they may be sick. During this time they could potentially infect other people or leave droplets, the agent carrying the virus, on surfaces or in the air where the virus can remain active for up to a day [air] or three days [smooth hard surfaces] assuming the right temperature [cooler].

So there are three elements to the origination and spread. One element is the fountain of infection, which is the dry cough. Hold your arm to your face to stop spreading droplets, and if you feel ill, stay home.

 

Testing is Ideal, but Temperature Taking Might be a Good Jury Rig

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis is the second element is to identify and isolate those who are ill as quickly as possible. The government wants to be able to test everyone so they can identify and isolate infected people. But the catch is that tests won’t be available in the bulk required, to reactivate the economy in some sort of timely manner.

 

So what to do? Jury rig. Some retail outlets are taking people’s temperatures before letting customers in the stores. One of the signs of illness, besides the dry cough, which is one of the primary means of transmission, is a fever. If you identify people with fevers and separate them from the herd, you’re going to reduce the infection rate by separating the ill folks from the rest of the herd as early as possible.

Various states and other government entities have developed an online quiz to use to self screen any symptoms you may have to help you determine whether it's possibly CoVid. Here's the link to the NYS online screening page which you can copy and paste into your browser bar - https://coronavirus.health.ny.gov/covid-19-testing.

 

To Mitigate the Spread, We Need to Raise the Bar on Hygiene & Cleaning Regimens

And the third element is the means of transmission, meaning through the air and through droplets on surfaces, which are touched by other people. The key here is the use of masks when in close quarters – but this has a downside as people fiddle with their masks and thus are touching their faces more than they would without them.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAnd the other piece of this is cleanliness and sanitation of surfaces – especially in highly trafficked public areas like the subway, doorknobs of office and residential buildings and so forth.

When I was younger, our family maintained a far more aggressive cleaning program than I have practiced ever since. Before every meal we had to wash our hands, and after every meal we washed the counter tops, the table and the dishes. Every week we scrubbed the floors, cleaned all of the sinks, toilets and tubs / showers. Every week we vacuumed, swept the areas around the entrance to our home, shook the rugs where people cleaned their feet prior to entering our home. And I recall one time after quickly washing my hands and wiping some of the dirt on the towel – my Father correcting me – telling me to WASH my hands and then use the towel to dry them, not use the towel to clean them. And I still recall some of the housewives at a town social gathering talking about washing the walls. I reckon [but don’t know] that procedure might have originated in influenza times.

I think we all need to return to these higher cleaning standards, if not indefinitely, at least for a while.


Mitigate the Critical Mass of Virus Required to Become Infected

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysTo become infected and sick, one needs to be exposed to a ‘critical mass’ of the virus. This will differ from person to person and is dependent on the means of transmission. Healthcare professionals, if they didn’t wear protective equipment, could potentially be exposed to significant amounts of the virus while treating sick people. But for the rest of us, the exposure, while seemingly ubiquitous, is far less available in critical mass.

To avoid any sort of Corona Virus build up / exposure, one can mitigate the amount they are exposed to by maintaining an active cleaning regimen that clears away virus and bacteria from those surfaces most often touched.

Let’s say you pick up some Corona Virus on a routine basis on the subway, or off a counter top at an active institution, at an ATM machine or a doorknob at your place of work or elsewhere. Let’s assume with each encounter it’s a critical mass which you then distribute to your cell phone, your keys, your doorknobs, your light switches, your TV clickers, your computer keyboards and mice, and so on.

Once distributed you wash your hands and then pick it back up the next time you touch the surface. And you keep touching these surfaces until you get sick. Or you could routinely wash / sanitize these surfaces thus reducing the likelihood you’ll pick up a critical mass and fall ill.

As you can see in the photo above, back in the 1950's, cleanliness and dressing properly were operating at higher standards than are maintained by most Americans today. Perhaps it's time to review and rethink what habits we've tossed, and what habits we've kept, that were passed down from prior generations.


Isolate the Known Vulnerable Populations

Since this Corona Virus is relatively new, there is likely still a lot we do not know about it. But conversely, the world has gone to work to quickly ramp up the learning curve to better understand what we’re up against.

What we know is that it appears primarily to be a respiratory illness – but that’s not all. Recently physicians have noticed that it also wreaks havoc with the cardio / pulmonary system [your blood vessels and heart], causing blood clots in the brain [strokes]. At least one physician who identified this problem said that he has begun to provide patients with blood thinners even before such symptoms start manifesting themselves.

Other health conditions of the patients having the greatest difficulty beating the virus include hypertension, diabetes, obesity and compromised immune systems from other health conditions like cancer and AIDS, as well as from age.

One report I saw noted that there’s been a significant reduction in heart attack [-25%] and stroke [-20%] patients. The theory is that they don’t want to go to the hospital for fear of catching CoVid 19. The healthcare professional interviewed opined that they thought it riskier to stay home with one of these two conditions than the risk of catching CoVid in a hospital.

 

Death Rates, Serology & Testing

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysScientists and governments are trying to figure out the death rate of CoVid 19. If you look at the reported numbers by Google / Wikipedia for the Corona Virus, it shows 904,000 people infected and 51,100 deaths, leading one to compute a 5.6% death rate, which is very, very high.

Government officials and scientists believe that the death rate may be overstated, as those with light symptoms may not have been tested and hence not included in the tested positive count, which would significantly reduce that death rate. Governor Cuomo had a study done whereby the group his folks tested showed a death rate 10 times lower than what is shown above.

A Democracy Now report noted that these studies have not undergone a rigorous peer review and that there may be issues with the serology of the tests which yield false positives – thus possibly inflating the number of people the tests indicate already had the virus. So it seems it’s still too early to really know what the death rate is.

 

Ongoing Dialogue Regarding Vulnerable Populations

The early demographic information indicates that ethnic minorities and men are most vulnerable to catching and dying from the disease than their numbers in the general population would suggest. The reasons for this remain unclear [like most things about this new threat].

There are a number of possible explanations for this. One seems to be that minorities are far more clustered in the urban areas, and hence represent a higher percentage of urban populations and far lower percentages of whole state populations – and the cities have been hardest hit because that’s where people are in closer contact / exposure.

Another explanation is that minorities and men [?] represent larger numbers of essential workers who are out on the line every day. And another explanation is that there is more limited healthcare access and education to members of the ethnic communities.

Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo took steps to set up more testing facilities in minority communities.


Looking to the Summer – Will Warmer Temperatures Halt the Spread?

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis is a difficult question to answer because the Corona Virus is new. But if we look around the world, there are other warm temperature nations – like India and Brazil – which are on an upward trajectory and both of these nations have significantly warmer temperatures than the U.S.

So the answer to this one is that we really don’t yet know, which should be disturbing.

So that’s the Corona Virus update, with a few suggestions on how we can get back to work. Continue educating people to stay home if ill and to cover their mouths while coughing. Take temperatures of folks entering more closed spaces. Continue with the hands washing, but step up the messaging on cleaning homes and offices. Definitely step up the cleaning of the subway which now – on the improved plan – is still only cleaned every three days and quite honestly, given the ridership is down 90% plus – it doesn’t look like it. Isolate vulnerable populations.

And keep researching the death rates, the demographics and what impact seasonality may or may not have. Lastly there are a number of drugs being worked on, with Remsedivir looking the most promising, while the one Trump is touting – Hydroxychloroquine – looking dangerous due to heart complications.

Have a good weekend. We’ll have more soon.



Back to Work Part I: Understanding the CoVid 19 Enemy

Review SARS-CoV-2 Characteristics – Function & Contagion

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 17, 2020 / / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

As noted in my last report, we’ve moved from emergency management to crisis management. That is simultaneously the good news and the bad news. I expect the crisis in one form or another will be with us for some time to come. But forecasting what the future looks like is at best a precarious endeavor.

Everyone is now trying to figure out a way back to the new normal, which means living with a incurable virus in our midst, until such time as therapies, cures or vaccines are found and proven to be successful.

So what does the path forward look like?

The image at right was created by Brooklyn artist Craig Ward of bacteria he collected on the subway and made into artistic renditions.

 

Governor Cuomo Begins Sketching a Back to Work Plan

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysFor starters Governor Cuomo extended NY Pause through May 15th. NY Pause is the directive to close social gathering places and venues, schools and non-essential businesses. Within the past week Mayor de Blasio said the NYC Public School system would not reopen this school year.

Governor Cuomo laid out a sketch of a conceptual plan, which likely came from one of the consultant groups, as it looked a lot like the growth share matrix devised by Boston Consulting Group. The growth share matrix was designed for companies to use to evaluate the businesses they are in, to determine whether to continue investing in them or to begin cashing out of them. The divisions in high growth businesses that are profitable are the ones to keep backing, while the companies in the low growth low profitability businesses are the ones to sell, close or grind out every last dollar.

Governor Cuomo’s matrix axes [plural for axis] has high and low infection rates along the y axis and more essential / less essential along the x axis. The more essential and less potential infection the quicker you’re back to work. The less essential and the higher the potential infection, the longer before you’re back to work.

 

Trump’s ‘Plan’ to get America Back to Work

Meanwhile, back at the White House, the Donald outlined what he called a plan to get America back to work. This is a summary of an ABC News report of the plan. They reported that the Donald’s three step plan includes:

  1. Doing mostly of what we’re already doing: social distancing, telework and shelter in place for vulnerable populations. Additionally pave way for an opening of smaller venues with sanitation and social distancing in place, and allow elective surgeries as hospital capacity becomes available. This step assumes a downward trajectory of infections and testing for those infected and healthcare workers.
  2. Opening non-essential services like bars, gyms and larger venues can open with moderate social distancing and sanitation in place.
  3. Returning back to the new normal.

 

Getting Back to Work – Start with the Science

The first place to start in getting folks back to work is with a review of the science of viruses in general, and the Corona Virus in particular. This should provide clues to how to keep this beast in check until the bright scientific minds of the world come up with a cure and / or vaccine.

 

Short Course on Viruses from Wikipedia

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysViruses are organisms, which have many properties similar to life like genes, but since they do not have some of the key life components – such as cell structure, their own metabolism or the ability to replicate without a host. Thus they are not considered living entities, but rather agents “… living at the edge of life …”. Wikipedia also says that there are 5,000 known species of viruses, which live in any and all ecosystems, and that there are millions of viruses on the planet.

Wikipedia also describes what a virus is when not replicating itself inside a host cell. They state,

“… viruses exist in the form of independent particles, or virions, consisting of: (i) the genetic material, i.e. long molecules of DNA or RNA that encode the structure of the proteins by which the virus acts; (ii) a protein coat, the capsid, which surrounds and protects the genetic material; and in some cases (iii) an outside envelope of lipids…”

 

Viral Agent Transmission - On Surfaces, in the Air & Older People

Thus virions are the vehicle for viral transmissions and as current studies of the Corona Virus indicate, the virions of CoVid 19 can remain operational for up to three days on some surfaces. Keep this factoid in mind, as its implications for ridding the nation of the virus is key, as it implies we all need to step up our cleaning regimens.

Also note that the reason older people are more prone to dying from viral infections, is that older people’s cell walls diminish in size and strength as people age. Thus the cells of older people are more susceptible to viral infections as the virion can more easily penetrate and replicate within an older person – and like a computer virus – bring the whole system crashing down. Keep this in mind as it has implications as to who should be quarantined / protected.

There are six phases to a viral infection. They are: 1) attachment to a host, 2) penetration of a cell, 3) uncoating which releases the virus, 4) replication, 5) assembly [which can be mutations] and 6) release [explode the cell wall or replicate with the cells].

 

Virus Category – SARS, MERS & CoVid 19

SARS – Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, MERS – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, CoVid 19 – Corona Virus 19 and the common cold all come from the same family of viruses. This viral family, Corona Viruses, is believed to date back thousands of years and is carried by birds and bats. The Corona Viruses were named as such for their ‘crown’ like appearance, which has some connection to the fact that they’re RNA viruses.

 

Two 21st Century Viral Originations From China, the First Since Xi Jinping Became Dictator

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSince the turn of the millennium, two of the major viruses named above appeared to have originated in China. According to a Wikipedia chart on the 2003 SARS virus, China had the lowest mortality rate. This leads one to ask the conspiracy question of whether Xi Jinping’s China is developing selectively targeted bio warfare agents that have gotten out of control. It seems a fair and important question – but it’s a question not a statement.

The other options are that China managed containing and mitigating the virus better than the other nations that caught it. Or that the Chinese government did a Rupert Murdoch style Fox Fake News, and published only what they seem to want folks to know, possibly omitting key facts to aid their narrative.


CoVid 19 is Now Called SARS-CoV-2 – A Flu Variant

The Corona Virus or CoVid 19 has been renamed to SARS-CoV-2 and it's described as an influenza variant. Thus it seems logical to look to the flu for guidance regarding SARS-CoV-2 transmission, which must be mitigated in order for us to safely return to work.

The flu can be transmitted in three ways: 1) direct contact with an infected source, 2) indirect transmission by touching a surface that has the organism and 3) aerosol transmission.

The Atlantic did a good early story on this vis a vis whether to wear masks on April 1, 2020 entitled “The Corona Virus Airborne. Should We All Wear Masks?”. But the New England Journal of Medicine just completed a study which they published on April 16, 2020 [yesterday] which compared / tested for the Corona Virus which is now being called SARS-CoV-2. You can look both of these up and read them for free.

 

Characteristics of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission

A March 23, 2020 Washington Post report says respiratory viral agents infect and replicate in three areas – the nose, throat and lungs. A virus like CoVid 19 can replicate itself 10,000’s of times and within days by millions. A person may become symptomatic after a day or two, but can also become contagious at that time or before.

The spread of a respiratory virus like CoVid 19 comes from droplets from within the lungs, which can be transmitted directly onto someone, or become airborne, or left on a surface. On smooth surfaces CoVid 19 can last up to three days, while on cardboard it lasts an estimated day. If it is frozen, it can reactivate when it thaws since it’s not an organism per se [see above].

The April 16, 2020 New England Journal of Medicine report pretty much confirms the what was published in the Washington Post story above.

The Aerosol Debate & Masks / See the Atlantic report. See NE Journal of Medicine report. Coming later Monday.

 

SARS-CoV-2 - Therapies & Cures

Vaccines aren’t likely for 12 – 18 months, assuming things go well. It’s important to put a caveat here as the virus mutates as it’s replication process co-opts / intertwines with the host cell. That’s how scientists were able to trace the origin of the Corona Virus into the U.S. through Europe.

There are other potential palliative techniques.

One is using the blood plasma of people who have had the virus, in order to make use of the antibodies their immune response system created. The theory is that this would jump start or aid someone's immune system in combatting the virus.

Another is antibody testing, which is used to determine whether someone has contracted the virus, and their immune system defeated it. When this is the case, one presumably has an immunity to the virus, at least for a while, and can safely return to work. This technique has been used for over a century but with "varying results and limitations" says Scott Koepsell of the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

And Hydroxychloroquine which has been promoted by Trump who reportedly has or is rumored to have a small interest in the company that makes it. A clinical trial of this in Brazil was stopped due to its potential negative impact on people’s hearts / conditions, after eleven people died of heart complications. A man in Arizona reportedly self medicated using chloroquine phosphate in a CoVid related case and then died. His wife did too, and was reported in critical condition.

One of the most promising drugs appears to be Remdesivir created by Gilead Sciences. The drug was originally targeted to combat the Ebola virus which quickly faded away. While it has not been approved for use, the Chinese apparently used it with some success to combat CoVid 19. A Febuary 5th, 2020 Time Magazine report states,

"...While Gilead’s experimental drug isn’t licensed or approved anywhere in the world, it is being rushed into human trials in China on coronavirus patients after showing early signs of being highly effective."

Remdesivir was used to treat the first Washington State CoVid 19 case, and succeeded. Stay tuned while many of the world's leading biotech firms pursue a therapy / cure.

 

Containment & Mitigation of SARS-CoV-2

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAt present therapies and cures elude us, so we have to fight the virus with containment & mitigation efforts. Containment is done by quarantining people either known or suspected to have the virus - or conversely – by quarantining people with high risk profiles in order to protect them from a potentially fatal illness.

For example, a number of members of the NYPD and MTA were unable to report to work while the crisis was raging, not necessarily because they had the virus – although some did and some died of it – but most because they had come into contact with someone who did have it, and thus they were quarantined in order to prevent any further spread of it.

People are also encouraged to self-quarantine in their homes, or within certain rooms in their homes if living with others - if they have it or believe they have it, in order to stop the spread of it, as it’s easily transmitted. Governor Cuomo showed a chart showing the range of rates of transmission [0.9 - 1.2] in his April 16th press briefing. Those numbers are centered around one - which means every infected person infects either more than one [1.2] which accelerates the spread, or less than one [.9] which corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysmeans the spread of the virus is being dampened. We were at 1.2 around or shortly after the NY Pause program began and now we're at .9 which means we're back on top of it. But it's not over because it's still being spread.

Another tool in the kit when you don’t have a therapy, cure or vaccine is to employ mitigation efforts. These include things like social distancing – keeping six feet away from people, washing your hands, wearing a face mask, upping your cleaning regimen and testing and isolating people as quickly as you can after they've become infected.

The Trump Administration, for the past month or so, has laid false claim to asserting that anyone who wants a test can get it. But, even a month after the outbreak, this is still not true.

 

Getting Back to Work Using Science

Follow social distancing, thoroughly wash your hands with soap and rinse, STEP UP YOUR CLEANING REGIMEN [this is not emphasized enough], and don’t touch your face before washing your hands. Quarantine the elderly and people with impaired immune systems and / or health issues. Wearing a face mask is now required when in close contact with others – but pay heed to where your hands have been since last washed while putting on, taking off or fiddling with the mask [it is for this reason that I think urging folks to wear face masks is bad advice].

 

Getting Back to Work - SARS-CoV-2 – Test & Isolate

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe key to getting back to work is to quickly identify [testing] and isolate those with the virus. Governor Cuomo has highlighted testing as one of the key ingredients of a return to the new normal. But in spite of what President Trump says, there aren’t enough tests available to do full population testing in New York State – let alone the nation.

New York has by far tested more of its population than anywhere else in the nation. And yet in New York State which has the highest testing rate in the nation, we’ve only tested between 2% – 3% of the population over the course of the past month. At this rate it would take three years to test the entire population of New York state. But work is afoot for an easier test with a faster read out, so stay tuned on this one.

There’s also been talk about contact tracing – whereby after one tests positive, the government would seek out those with whom the subject was in close contact. They’ve done that in countries in Asia, but many believe that’s not likely to go over well here, as it is considered a violation of privacy.

So what can we do now? Absent the tests, people can mitigate the spread by making sure they cover their mouths when coughing and trying not to cough in public. They can stay home when they feel ill. They can continue to social distance. They can wash their hands and step up their home cleaning regimen to sanitize or at least wash frequently used surfaces.

 

Getting Back to Work - SARS-CoV-2 - Clean the MTA

In the public sphere start with the public transit system [see photo at the beginning of this story done by a Brooklyn artist showing the bacteria he collected on the subway].

I’ve highlighted this in prior reports. Millions of New Yorkers use the subway on a daily basis. Just as there is no quicker way to move large masses of people around town, there is no quicker way to spread a viral agent than on public transit. The cleaning regimen of the subway system must be raised, and I would say – based on my frequent ridership of it – raised significantly. You clean up the subway system – really clean it and then regularly keep it clean daily – and you probably have won half the battle [along with other measures like social distancing, hands washing & cleaning in place except the store closings].

At least 59 MTA workers have died from SARS-CoV-2. That doesn't seem a coincidence.

We’re fortunate in that the warmer weather is here so more people can commute via bicycle or walking.

 

Getting Back to Work - Clean, Clean & Clean Some More

And at all places of business up the cleaning regimen especially for door knobs, light switches, table and desk tops, computer keyboards and mice, cell phones, tv clickers and all hard and smooth surfaces where the little SARS-CoV-2 might lie in wait.

Be advised that there's new information being published by the scientific / medical community nearly daily as we learn about the CoVid 19 virus which as mentioned above, is now technically called SARS-CoV-2.



Cuomo, de Blasio & YOU have been doing Great

New Yorkers Appear to Turn Corner on the Corona Virus Crisis

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 12, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

I hope you had a good Easter / Passover weekend.

Based on what I observed, albeit with very limited movement and anecdotally, New Yorkers appeared to stay at home, self isolating over the holiday weekend.

This sort of compliance with government guidance is what has enabled us to stem the spread of the - at times lethal - Corona Virus. And the levelling happened none too soon, as parts of the NYC hospital system were operating at full capacity - and in some cases over capacity.

Most of the metrics for the virus have been levelling off or even going down, while the only positive metric - daily discharges - continues to rise.

We appear to be transitioning from emergency management, to crisis management, and government officials are now even beginnning to look ahead at transitioning us back to what will be the new normal.

 

NYS & NYC New CoVid 19 Cases Level - Even Show Signs of Falling

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysNew CoVid 19 cases in NYS were down fairly sharply yesterday, based on the numbers presented by Governor Cuomo. But the drop may be due to weekend reporting discrepancies. In any case the number of new cases appears to have levelled off in both New York state and in New York City.

The key statistics that the Governor and the Mayor have been closely monitoring include new and net hospitalizations, new and net admissions to the Intensive Care Unit, and new and net intubations aka use of respirators. As you can see from the graphs, all have been falling. This data was collected from the Governor's daily press briefing, as well as from other media outlets such as the New York Times, on the days when the Governor didn't present all of the key metrics in his press briefing.


Riding the Rails During the CoVid Pandemic in NYC

Observations of a Blogger While Covering the CoVid Story

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 9, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

I've been covering the CoVid Pandemic since it began in NYC, starting in the first half of March. At first my attention was focused on the closures by the Governor and Mayor as they began shuttering social events, social interactions and ultimately the economy.

It wasn't long before I shifted my attention to the growing numbers of people testing positive for the Corona Virus in NYC and NYS. This was followed by photographing the efforts by the NYC Mayor and the NYS Governor to build out additional healthcare capacity, to accommodate the projected growth of sick people, resulting from the spreading pandemic. They had a very limited time frame to complete this build out, before the influx of new Corona Virus patients overwhelmed the existing NYC and NYS healthcare capacity.

Most recently I've turned my attention to the economic hardships currently being borne by New Yorkers, particularly in small businesses and the folks working in essential services.

I've witnessed many people thanking the folks working in essential services - including healthcare, public transit, grocery and pharmacy outlets, and first responders - and I want to add my own thanks for all of the work they do, to keep the rest of us moving.

The photo above was taken about a week ago. A little bit of natural beauty helps keep things in perspective.

 

Reporter Travelogue - Startling Beginning With Closures

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThis is a travelogue about riding the MTA rails, along with essential workers, to do my part by providing independent first hand reports and context regarding what's happening here in NYC vis a vis the Corona Virus pandemic. Most of what I report is either not reported by the sensationalist, ratings-driven TV network news, or it's diminished in their reported accounts because it's contextual - not shocking.

The pandemic first hit my radar while I was covering a theater event at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. At that time I first heard that the Governor had started instituting surprising - and what at the time seemed draconian - measures designed to stymie the growing tide of CoVid 19 infections. In short order these actions were followed by the Mayor and it included shutting down restaurants and non-essential services.

The photo at right shows shuttered businesses along Court Avenue in Brooklyn during the NYC CoVid lockdown.

At the moment these governmental measures appear to be working, but I suspect maintaining discipline during the Passover and Easter holidays will be challenging. Afterall we have now spent over a month in communal isolation. But if people don't comply with the guidance provided by government officials, the pandemic will quickly resurge, and lengthen the time before we can all get back to the new normal. The Governor cited several examples from around the world including Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore and the Influenza pandemic of 1918 in the U.S..


NYC Hospitals Operating at Capacity, CoVid 19 Curve Flattening, BUT ...

The Next Battle is to Stay Disciplined to Avoid a Resurgence

Will New Yorkers Comply during Passover & Easter Week?

April 6, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMany NYC Hospitals are reportedly operating at full capacity, and in some cases operating at capacity plus.

The good news is that the supply chain of personal protective equipment [PPE], respirators and gowns has been holding - albeit on a tight supply. And there are still anecdotal reports, generally by the alarmist TV networks, that indicate there are a few spot shortages. If true, these shortages are the result of distribution issues, rather than any out-of-stocks by the city and state.

Nonetheless, the needs for protective gear and life saving equipment remain high priorities for both the Governor and the Mayor, as the supply chain is on a tight turnaround and the CoVid pandemic continues, albeit at a slackening pace, in the city and parts of the state.

The good news, as previously reported, is that we may be approaching the apex. The social distancing appears to have thwarted the worst case scenario, and may even have contained the spread from reaching the middle case scenario.

But the danger persists.

The chart at right shows the daily CoVid deaths stabilizing. But a number of the morgues are over capacity, and some of the bodies reportedly had to be stored in refrigerated trucks, which are affectionately referred to as mobile morgues.

 

The Real Challenge this Week is Getting Through Passover & Easter without Breaking the NYC & NYS Healthcare System

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAnd the real test of it comes this week as both Passover and Easter come to play, when people generally come together to celebrate these traditional religious holidays.

To discourage people coming together in large numbers the Governor doubled the fine for violations of social distancing from $500 to $1000. Cuomo also extended the non-essential store closure policy for another two weeks - through the end of April.

In the Governor's daily press conference, he called upon local law enforcement to give tickets to people regardless of their religious affiliation, if they violate the call for social distancing. In doing so, Cuomo noted that not only are those who gather in such a manner putting themselves and their communities at risk, but they are also adding to the pandemic crisis, by putting first responders including FDNY, the NYPD, the MTA workers and the NYC / NYS Healthcare system workers at risk. A risk, which in many cases, ends up in death.

And given the hospital / healthcare system is operating at full capacity, if people start to break formation and begin disregarding the government social distancing guidance, they could potentially tip the balance of what seems a well managed pandemic crisis, into an all out disaster.

The chart above shows some good news, whereby the NYS daily CoVid hospitalizations are exceeded by the number of CoVid patients leaving the hospital. Remember - these numbers are driven up or down by our behavior as a whole community.


CoVid Testing Now Widespread, Growth Continues but doesn't Accelerate, Severe Cases Appear to be Levelling

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysApril 4, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

It's been a while since we've had much good news. At right is a graph shown by Governor Cuomo at a press conference today. Over the past week or so, Andrew Cuomo appears to be moving toward one of the more optimistic scenarios. He expects that we may POSSIBLY hit the Apex sometime next week.

Mayor de Blasio also seemed focused on the immediate needs of next week, but the Mayor has not yet adjusted his long term view of what's needed. Perhaps the Mayor hasn't yet received 'the memo'.

 

New Daily Discharges Exceed New Daily Hospitalizations

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysAs you can see from the graph presented at right, the daily discharges at hospitals now exceeds the number of new daily admissions to the hospitals. Obviously that's a good sign, as more capacity is being freed up, as is being committed, providing breathing room for the entire system, which has been under some significant stress the past week or so.

Now be advised, the Network TV personalities are paid on the basis of their ratings performance - not keeping you properly and contextually informed - which is why you've been hearing that the sky is falling these past couple ofweeks.

To be sure, some hospitals that are under great duress. Elmhurst Hospital in Queens has been one of them, and I've heard, but haven't visited, Mount Sinai in Queens and Jacobi in the Bronx. But other hospitals aren't making the news because they're operating just fine. So bear in mind when you watch TV news you aren't necessarily getting the full picture - you're getting the ratings driven network TV news picture.

The bubbleheads on TV news seem to be paid on how well they read teleprompters, not on their intellectual or journalistic acumen.


NYC Curve Appears to be Flattening, NYS Numbers are Still Rising

Hospitalizations, ICU Patients, Intubations & Discharges

April 2, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / NYC Neighborhoods / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Well, there seems to be some good news, and Governor Cuomo has started hinting at it in his daily CoVid press conferences. A week ago, the Governor was talking about NYS hitting the apex of the curve in 21 days, which is in late April. This week the Governor started hinting that we may hit the top of the curve within the week. The Mayor, meanwhile has been saying that next week could be the start of the apex / wave.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMy assessment differs from both the Governor's and the Mayor's. And while it's based on information provided by the Governor, I'm drawing a different, more optimistic conclusion. Part of that may be that I haven't been able to talk to anyone from the Governor's office who knows precisely what's in / not in the numbers the Governor has been providing. And it's also worth noting that both the Governor and the Mayor don't have the luxury of planning for the optimistic scenario.

 

Assumptions for the Analysis in this Report - Beware the Hype & Distortions of Anecdotal Reporting

Assuming the numbers hold and New Yorkers' behavior holds, NYC may have already hit its apex of the CoVid pandemic. Note that those are big assumptions, but they're assumptions based on current numbers and behaviors.

As I am sure you can appreciate, that's good news, as some NYC hospitals had reached their capacity in terms of beds and / or Intensive Care Unit beds with / without respirators. But while maxing out the capacity at some of the eleven hospitals that are run by the NYC Health & Hospital System - like Elmhurst Hospital in Queens and possibly Jacobi Hospital in the Bronx - it is not true for the privately run hospitals that represent a significant portion of the medical infrastructure of NYC. One exception may be Mount Sinai in Astoria, Queens which today was reporting that they're handling a lot of CoVid patients.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysOn Monday afternoon, March 30th, I spoke very unofficially to professionals from both Mount Sinai and also at Memorial Sloan Kettering - both in Manhattan - who told me at that time, that the operations at both of these hospitals were pretty much functioning somewhat normally.

So I think it's important for people to bear in mind, a shortage or over-capacity in one hospital, doesn't mean there's a shortage system-wide. The flip side of that coin is that we may have more capacity and supplies than is needed - but it might not be available in the places where it's most needed.


The CoVid Curve Appears to be Flattening

Growth in Daily Hospitalizations & ICU Patients Appears to Slow

March 31, 2020 / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Please note I tried to contact the Governor's Office for comment on this and have not yet heard back from them. I know they're busy, and we're not from the MainStream Media.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysNearly three weeks ago, Governor Cuomo issued an order for social distancing, by initially limiting social gatherings to fifty people or less. Mayor de Blasio supported the move that same day. As such most of the cultural venues in New York City suspended normal operations and events pending further notification or some future date. That was nearly three weeks ago.

That action was subsequently followed by further actions, limiting social gatherings to ten people and eventually just immediate households. On March 15, 2020 Mayor de Blasio issued an order asking bars and restaurants to close their doors except for deliveries / take out. That was more than two weeks ago.

A week ago while I was out photographing the empty, eerie NYC landscape, I noticed somewhat casually that somewhere between 10% - 25% of retail outlets were still open in Manhattan / Queens. Just a few days ago, while making another sweep through a couple of neighborhoods, the percent of those open had dropped to ghost town levels of 10% and less.

The bad news is that there's been a near stop to 'non-essential' life here and that there's an economic reckoning most folks are facing tomorrow on April 1st as bills come due.

The good news is that I've been tracking the numbers provided by Governor Cuomo and the curve does appear to already be flattening. The Governor has hinted at this by noting that the hospitalization rate had gone from doubling every 2 - 3 days at the outset a few weeks ago, to doubling every six days as of about a day ago.

But the good news goes beyond that. A couple of days ago, the Governor changed what numbers he was releasing to the public.


It's a Corona Virus Weekend NYC III

CoVid 19 Pandemic Continues to Keep Life in NYC & NYS on Hold

The Following Includes a Compendium of Closures & Expected Activity Resumption Dates [Subject to Change]

Updated March 29, 2020 from 3/27/20 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysWeather. The Temperature highs will be in the high 60's Friday, dropping to 50 on Saturday and rising a bit to the mid 50's on Sunday. The temperature lows will be in the mid to high 40's all weekend. There is an 80% - 100% chance of a half inch of Rain on Saturday mid to late afternoon [3 - 5 pm] and a bit more than a half inch early Sunday morning [before 7 am]. Winds will be 5 - 10 mph all weekend. The Humidity will be rise from the mid 20% range Friday, to 60% Saturday and 80% Sunday. Click for NYC Weather.

MTA / Public Transit / Click here for the MTA Weekender.

The photo at right shows a man in Bryant Park last weekend enjoying a rare moment of solitude in the middle of a very densely populated city during the CoVid 19 shutdown.

 

On Thursday, March 26th, I headed toward CitiField to photograph it on what was supposed to be opening day. Major Leaugue Baseball was to begin that day with the Mets playing Washington at home, while the Yankees were to play Baltimore away.

 

Elmhurst Hospital is the Epicenter of Queens, which is Epicenter of NYC, which is Epicenter of NYS, which is Epicenter of the America

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysOn my way I stopped to visit Elmhurst Hospital which had been labeled the CoVid epicenter of Queens that same day. Queens had become the epicenter of NYC by reporting the most cases in the city, and New York City is the epicenter of NYS, which is the epicenter of the U.S.

I visited Elmhurst Hospital just as they had closed the testing tents, which ran from 6 am - 4 pm. I spoke to one of the healthcare professionals there, inquiring as to whether they thought that there had been an overreaction to the spreading virus.

I was told that the virus was new, mutating, very contagious, and more lethal than the flu - so it should be taken seriously and managed in accordance with the general health risks it poses. Within the prior 24 hours thirteen people had died at Elmhurst Hospital.

On the subway the number of people wearing masks over their faces had grown significantly. I also noticed, for the first time, that a number of people were also wearing plastic gloves. Not long from now, everyone will be wearing Hazmat suits.

Well, at least it was easy to get a seat, and even easy to maintain the social distancing.

The photo above shows the testing tent outside of the Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on Thursday. In the prior 24 hour period 13 people reportedly died.

 

Small Businesses Have Closed or are Closing - Nothing's Moving

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysOn my way home I stopped at a few small businesses I generally frequent. One had completely closed its doors for the past couple of days because business had been softening. I imagine staying open just wasn't worth the effort and expense. Another small business had shortened their hours, as business there had also softened, but there was still business moving. And at the third place I stopped, the owner told me they were going to close for a while, until things started moving again, as there just wasn't much / any business moving.

When I arrived at my own personal self quarantine station - which I used to think of as my apartment - I flipped on the tube. There in front of me were so many people, talking endlessly and saying so, so little. So I turned it off to restore a sense of calm.

What follows is a compendium of some of the major closings and announcements made over the past couple of weeks, as well as the anticipated time they plan to resume activity, but all subject to change.

The photo at right shows the business district on 82nd Street in Jackson Heights Queens during the middle of the day. As you can see, most businesses had closed.


CoVid - The Virus Everyone is Talking About

Ghost Town: One of Every 200 New Yorkers has been Tested

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMarch 23, 2020 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Last weekend I headed into Manhattan to take a few photos of what I expected to be a ghost town. While some folks were moving about - relative to normal activity - Manhattan seemed empty. With this report are a few of the photos. I'll include more of them in the upcoming weekend update.

I've also been fairly closely following Governor Cuomo's daily press briefing. The numbers, as mentioned in my last report, that I've been keeping a close eye on are the number of infections vis a vis the number of tests completed. The reason for this is that I have not yet heard anyone explain how they can truly ascertain the transmission rate, without being able to separate out the growth in the number of people who have tested positively, from the growth in the number of people they have tested.

 

NYC & NYS CoVid 19 Testing Metrics vs Infected Numbers

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysSo I put together a chart, in which I had to make a few estimates using the data the Governor provided, as I had not captured all of it. Friday, March 20, 2020 is the starting point, where Cuomo reported 32,427 tests completed in NYS, of which 44% or 14,386 were completed in NYC. At that time there were 7102 and 4408 infected in NYS and NYC respectively, which means that 22% of those tested in NYS were infected, while 31% of those tested in NYC were infected.

In the briefing today, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 there were an estimated [my copy of Cuomo's NYS total number was unreadable] 94,289 tests completed in NYS, of which 41% or 38,390 were completed in NYC. At this time there were 25,665 infected in NYS, of which 14,904 of the infected were found in NYC. This translates to 27% of those tested in NYS being infected, while 39% of those tested in NYC were infected.

What does this mean? Actually since this virus is new, we don't really know for sure. What we do know is that about 26,000 people in NYS are infected, of which 15,000 of them live in NYC. And, according to Cuomo on Monday, the testing per capita in NYS is higher than anywhere else in the world including South Korea [see fact check correction below].


It's a Corona Virus Weekend NYC II

Even more than Last Week, the Corona Virus Pandemic Shuts Down NYC

* March 20, 2020 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Corona Virus in NYC & NYS CoVid 19 / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

* Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the mid 70's on Friday, dropping to 50 on Saturday and the mid 40's by Sunday. The temperature lows will be in the mid 40's on Friday, dropping to the mid 30's Saturday, rising a bit to the high 30's on Sunday. There is a 40% chance of a minuscule amount of Rain on Friday afternoon, for which the peaking probability is at 5 pm. Then no rain for the rest of the weekend, but cloudy Saturday morning. Winds will be 10 - 15 mph all weekend. The Humidity will be around 70 on Friday dropping to the mid 40% range for the rest of the weekend. Click for NYC Weather.

* MTA / Public Transit / Click here for the MTA Weekender.

 

A Racist President Applies a Demagogue Label to CoVid

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysUnfortunately we have a president, who oftentimes makes situations worse, because of his ignorant and childish behavior. The Donald seems to be trying to label the Corona Virus the China virus and quite frankly, is doing more to confirm some of the labels given to him - like he's a racist - than convincing anyone other than his Fox 'News' toadies - to go along with his not-helpful-in-addressing-the-CoVid-crisis ploy.

It seems that our babyman president, won't even act like an adult, even in the midst of what appears to be the world's worst pandemic in this millenia.

A demagogue is

"a political leader who seeks support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument."

 

MTA Sanitizes Subway Cars and Buses

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysThe NYC MTA moves between four and six million people daily. That's a mind boggling figure when you think about it. But last week ridership began falling significantly. And by this week, about a million or more people, had found some other way to get around, or were staying home. Thus the MTA is seeking federal funding to the tune of about $4 billion to help it shore up the lost revenue. And the ridership reductions are expected to continue for a while.

The MTA stepped up its cleaning regimen effective March 3, 2020. It now santizes its subway cars and buses on a rotating schedule every three days. Have the subways ever been so clean? In spite of the effort folks are still encouraged to practice social distancing meaning keeping six feet apart from others when possible. Anyone who is ill is asked to stay home.

The photo above right shows a placard on the subway, artistically depicting the diversity of our city. We live at the crossroads of the world, which means we are both the beneficiaries of that intellectual and cultural diversity, but also carry risks which are associated with that openess, because of our societal exposure. Like everything in life, we must strive to find the right balance of cultivating our openess, while managing and minimizing the associative risks. Data, science, education and discipline can help us strike the right balance.


It's a Corona Virus Weekend

This Weekend Many Events Cancelled & Many Institutions Closing Doors for a Couple of Weeks due to the Corona Virus Pandemic

corona virus nyc covid 19 nyc nysMarch 13, 2020 / NYC Social Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Weather. The Temperature highs will be in the high 60's on Friday, dropping to the high 50's on Saturday and low 50's by Sunday. The temperature lows will be around 40 on Friday & Saturday, dropping to the low 30's by Sunday. Rain is in the forecast for Friday ONLY, likely gone by 11 am. It will be cloudy later in the day on Saturday only. Winds will be 15 mph on Friday, dropping to between 5 - 10 mph for the rest of the weekend. The Humidity will be around 70 on Friday dropping to about 40% for the rest of the weekend. Click for NYC Weather.

MTA / Public Transit / Click here for the MTA Weekender.

The photo at right shows some folks riding the subway this week who've taken the precaution of wearing surgical masks to prevent getting infected by the Corona Virus - see details below.

 

Corona Virus - A Brief History of Growing Awareness

The Corona Virus outbreak was first reported by the World Health Organization on December 31, 2019 in Wuhan in China.

By January 30, 2020 the World Health Organization declared the Corona Virus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

On Saturday, March 7, 2020 Governor Cuomo called a NYS State of Emergency in an effort to get out ahead of what at the time was the Corona Virus epidemic, as there was a rapid spike in the number of reported cases in NYS. At the time NYC had reported about a dozen known cases.

On March 10, 2020 Governor Cuomo ordered a quarantine of a neighborhood in New Rochelle.

On March 11, 2020, Mayor de Blasio followed suit, and declared NYC in a State of Emergency in an effort to get out ahead of what was called a pandemic by the World Health Organization on the same day.

And today, March 13, 2020, last but not least, Donald Trump declared a State of Emergency in the United States in order to accelerate the nation's slow response to the evolving public health crisis.

 

Corona Virus Precautions - Cleanliness is Next to Godliness

By now you'd have to be blind, deaf and mute not to have heard that you should thoroughly wash your hands and not touch your face without having cleaned your hands.

In a March 11, 2020 report, the Sacramento Bee, which is a well respected news outlet run by McClatchy Newspapers, informed us that the National Institute of Health conducted a study that shows that the Corona Virus can remain alive for up to three days on some surfaces under the right conditions.

As such you should also step up your cleaning practices, specifically with respect to things and places that you touch regularly - like the TV clicker or your mouse and keypad and cell phone and keys.



A Stuttering Biden or An Intransigent Bernie? | joe biden stutters joe biden stutterer bernie sanders legislative record bernie sanders intransigence uncompromising bernie sanders joe biden democratic primaries
A Stuttering Biden or An Intransigent Bernie?

Democrats Choice: A Stuttering Biden or An Intransigent Bernie?

Most Folks Don't Know that Biden has a Stuttering Handicap which is Why he doesn't do so Well in Debates & his 'Circumlocution' Remedy is Likely the Primary Cause of his Verbal Gaffes

Most Sanders Supporters Probably Haven't Taken a Look at Sanders' Record of Accomplishment which During his 29 Years in Congress is Comprised of his Leadership on Only Three Passed Senate Bills - Two of Which were Naming Post Offices

March 9, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / National Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

This past week, as we all watched the Democratic race for the presidency unfold, we witnessed a bit of history. Former Vice President Joe Biden's incredible comeback from what seemed like a campaign on life support, ended with him sweeping the south and decisively winning victories in most of the states up for grabs on Super Tuesday.

Biden's Coalition - The Moderates, The Working Class & The Realists

But like all victories, Biden didn't do it alone. Biden first received a boost via the endorsement of Congressman James Clyburn only days before the South Carolina primary. On Monday, Amy Klobuchar ended her campaign and endorsed Biden, followed shortly that same day by Pete Buttigieg, who had ended his campaign a day earlier. And Beto O'Rourke reappeared, to throw his support behind Biden in Texas.

job biden stutters joe biden stutterer bernie sanders legislative records bernie sanders intransigenceAs a result, Biden became the front runner, eclipsing Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders following Biden's electoral sweep on Super Tuesday.

One might say that this demonstrates the biggest difference between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Joe has been able to bring many of his former challengers into his tent, while Bernie Sanders has not.

Don't get me wrong. I like Bernie Sanders. I think he has great integrity, he is a strong advocate for the working class, and he has clearly demonstrated that he has an admirable talent for running an organization during his two presidential bids.

But the difference between Sanders and Biden is that Sanders appears to be a purest ... an ideologue ... someone who does not compromise. And people who don't compromise can make great thought leaders, but they rarely - if ever - make great leaders.

Great Leaders Know How To Compromise & That's How They Get Things Done

Leaders need to make compromises in order to get things done. They generally don't get everything they want because vested interests will do everything in their power to thwart them when they try. So what real leaders do, is stake out the next evolution, by moving the ball a bit forward, hoping that someone else will pick it up at a later date and move it forward again.

  • CLICK here to read the rest of our report on Joe Biden is a Stutterer & Bernie Sanders Legislative Record. The report includes: 1) a synopsis of an Atlantic report whereby a journalist who has a stutter followed Biden on the campaign trail and shared his insights with us, 2) a look at Sanders legislative record by another reporter writing in the Washington Post, and 3) a Case Study in leadership regarding moving the nation forward through compromise.


Bloomberg Ends Campaign

Bloomberg Ends Campaign & Endorses Former VP Biden

March 4, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Update - 11.50 am - Michael Bloomberg announced that he was ending his campaign and threw his support behind former Vice President Joe Biden.

Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders remain in contention for the race, with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren far, far behind. And while Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard hasn't officially announced the end of her campaign, she's been out of contention, pretty much from the start.


Bloomberg Wins Big in American Samoa

Mike "Gets it Done" with Convincing Victory in Samoa

March 4, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

rupert murdoch fox fake news rupert murdoch donald trump fake president fake newsMarch 3, 2020 / Congratulations are in order for Michael Bloomberg. He won American Samoa hands down.

But Mike's convincing victory didn't come cheaply. To date Bloomberg reportedly spent $556 million in his effort to become our fearless leader. Bloomberg claimed he had began his campaign for that reason - to replace our existing leader - rather than a myriad of other reasons I can think of including: 1) to satisfy Michael Bloomberg's billion dollar ego, 2) to take control of the fiscal, economic and power apparatus of the American federal government - like he did the NYC municipal government apparatus as Mayor, and / or 3) to fulfill what has likely been his life long dream of becoming one of the world's most powerful men.

Going into the race this morning, Bloomberg said he was in it for the long haul. But by the end of the night, he appeared to be reconsidering. As of this report Bloomberg was estimated to have won 33 of the 1991 delegates needed to secure the Democratic nomination, which means he spent $16.8 million per pledged delegate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, on the other hand, has been the low spender in the election so far. Biden spent only $25 million, while Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders reportedly spent $73 million. Sanders spending was 8 times smaller than what Bloomberg spent, while former Vice President Biden's spending was 22 times smaller. I guess the Sanders and Biden names carry some good measure of value, because as of this report Biden had 414 delegates, Sanders 334 delegates, and Bloomberg - as mentioned above - 33 delegates. That means that Biden spent $60,000 per delegate, Sanders spent $218,000 per delegate, while Bloomberg spent $16.8 million per delegate. Thus Bloomberg spent 280 times more per delegate than Joe Biden.

Ironically, the only thing Bloomberg appears to have achieved, is to have strengthened the hand of the one Democratic candidate Bloomberg has essentially said he would not like to see become our next president - democratic socialism advocate, Bernie Sanders.

The message that came out of the election results of Super Tuesday last night, is that the 2020 Democrats don't seem to be as ignorant as the 2016 Republicans. But then the Democrats generally don't rely on the Australian born billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, to feed them what seems to be his cleverly packaged doses of ignorance, which he appears to deliver via his multiple, branded, propaganda 'news' outlets.

If you don't know who Rupert Murdoch is, then perhaps it's time you looked him up. He's running Australia and Britain using their conservative party members as surrogates. The Conservative Parties in these nations appear to be held hostage by Murdoch's overwhelming share of media, which he seems to use propagandistically to support or attack those who toe or don't toe his Fox-like Nationalist party line. In this country Fox 'conservatives' are not really Republicans anymore - just ask Sean Hannity.

Murdoch appears well on his way to achieving the same sort of manipulative media control here in America. It was Murdoch - more than anyone besides Trump himself - who was responsible for the Trump campaign victory in 2016. The impact of the Russians on the 2016 election, versus the impact of Murdoch's overwhelming share of mass media brands [which include Fox News, Wall Street Journal, NY Post, Market Watch, Barron's and at the time he controlled National Geographic], is the difference between day and night.

In 2019 the Trump Administration greenlighted Murdoch's inverted takeover of Disney / ABC, which Murdoch appears to be insidiously corrupting, as we speak. Disney / ABC's new CEO announcement on February 25, 2020 was a complete surprise to nearly all of the observers of that organization. But you can rest assured that it was no surprise to Keith Rupert Murdoch - because that's how Murdoch operates ... by quietly slithering around behind the scenes.

See our report series about the Fox Fake News, the NY Post propaganda and the Wall St Journal to learn more about one of the not well known, but most powerful people on the planet: Rupert Murdoch.


Michael Bloomberg Record - Part II. | michael bloomberg nyc mayor record mike bloomberg for president mike bloomberg corrupt michael bloomberg democrat republican independent mike bloomberg candidate for president mike bloomberg buying democratic endorsements mike bloomberg cash philanthropies buy mayoral endorsements bloomberg buys democrats party
Michael Bloomberg Record - Part II.

Is Picking One of Two NYC Republican Billionaires Who Govern for the 1% Really a Choice?

Democrats Should Take a Hard Look at the Billionaire Republican Bloomberg's Record Before Casting Their Votes

Any American with Half a Brain should Know that Relying Soley on an Ad for all the Information You use to make a Decision is Not a Good Idea

Cleaned up March 17, 2020 from 2/21/2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / National Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Bloomberg's Ads Talk About his Recent Donations - NOT About his Record as Mayor

If you watch Bloomberg's commercials closely you'll notice that he doesn't talk much about his record as NYC Mayor, but rather talks mostly about the donations he has made over the past two or three years.

Most of these donations were made AFTER the Donald won the presidency, and showing Bloomberg - the other NYC Republican Billionaire seeking the presidency - that it's possible that super rich people can fool enough of the electorate to vote for someone who has little to no idea what it's really like living in the middle class or working class - let alone the poor.

Bloomberg's donations include addressing gun control or lack thereof, addressing climate change and donations to women's groups. Bloomberg's donations, while very laudable, also appear to be very politically calculated.

Bloomberg Donations to Republican Senators Help McConnell Keep a Majority

Bloomberg has given to a number of Democratic candidates over the past few years, even though Bloomberg governed as NYC Mayor mostly while calling himself a Republican. But it's important to note that the former NYC Mayor also gave to Republican candidates, including senators who supported the Trump / Mitch McConnell agenda, such as South Carolina Republican Lindsay Graham [$250,000] and Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey [$11,700,000].

According to a November 26, 2019 report in the New York Times,

"... The former mayor of New York poured in $11.7 million to help re-elect the Republican incumbent, Senator Pat Toomey ... Federal records show that political committees funded by Mr. Bloomberg have spent more than $86 million since 2012 -- the bulk devoted to promoting Democrats. Yet more than $17 million went to boost Republicans. In addition, Mr. Bloomberg has personally donated another $950,000 to Republican campaigns and political action committees ... "

Bloomberg claimed he supported Pennsylvanian Pro Lifer Toomey for Senator because he was an advocate for gun control. But according to NY Magazine, so was the Democratic challenger, Kate McGinty. McGinty was also an environmental policy expert, while Toomey was also a Pro Life advocate. Sources for this paragraph are NYT 11/26/2019 and NY Mag 2/18/2020.

Another political donation the former NYC Republican billionaire made was in 2014 when he supported the gubernatorial campaign of former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder with a $3 million contribution. According to a February 18, 2020 report in NY Magazine,

"In 2014, Bloomberg gave $3 million to Michigan governor Rick Snyder, the conservative Republican who presided over the mass poisoning of Flint's water supply. The supposedly "socially liberal" billionaire's rationale for backing a self-described "pro-life, pro-Second Amendment" Republican? Snyder was, in Bloomberg's words, a guy "who took on the unions to get Detroit and Michigan going in the right direction. And he was re-elected despite being attacked by the unions.""

How Many Voters Can Billionaires & Mass Media Deceive?

Are Billionaires Corrupting the One Man / One Vote Promise of Our Democracy?

Bloomberg said he spent this money to "get it done", essentially claiming he can buy his way into the democratic process. Americans need to take note, because when they relinquish their votes to the siren call of the billionaires, they are relinquishing their role in what has been the American democratic process.

Voters have come to the fork in the road where they must choose between that which is easy and that which is right. Voters can make a difference by donating small sums of money over the internet, and if they can't do that. they can do a search for candidates or government officials they like and help them make calls or sign up voters or canvass neighborhood getting the word out the old fashioned way - the human way.



It's not a Democracy if the American Government's Power is Personalized | donald trump lies pinocchio president y 2k lies rupert murdoch pinocchio pundits fox fake news fox propaganda machine
It's not a Democracy if the American Government's Power is Personalized

When Government Power is Personalized, You Have a Failed Democracy

Donald Trump, Rupert Murdoch & the Personalization of the Power of the American Presidency

Updated March 17, 2020 from 2/10/2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / News Analysis, Opinion & Satire/ Gotham Buzz NYC.

I've been watching events unfold on the national stage rather closely these past four years. I imagine most everybody in this country has.

It seems what we are witnessing is a gradual and insidious failure of our democratic institutions - because "We The People" haven't been paying an appropriate level of attention, nor fully participating in the functioning of our democracy, for far, far too long.

Thomas Jefferson said that,

"... if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be."

We have been ignoring the signs of the American Oligarchy usurpation of government power for decades, lead in part by Australian born and bred billionaire propagandist Rupert Murdoch. And their encroachment upon our rights, and their abuse of public power continue to accelerate, so much so, that it is no longer done surreptitiously.

Monarchs are Dictators: King George III was America's Last Authoritarian in 1783

If Americans don't start making the right choices - then due process, checks and balances and the rule of law are going to slip away from us. The result will be that a few people will make most of the important decisions for the rest of us, just like when King George III ruled the colonies, and just as authoritarians like 'President' Xi JinPing of China and 'President' Vladimir Putin of Russia rule their nations today.

Trump appears to embody the usurpation, but Rupert Murdoch seems to be the man who started us on the not-so-long journey back to ignorance. Since the Australian born and bred billionaire arrived on our shores, his accumulation of an overwhelming share of our mass media, has led to the election of numerous representatives who don't keep their pledge to represent their constituencies, uphold the Constitution, and no longer even pretend to adhere to the rule of law. This has been on clear display since Donald Trump became president.

We should have seen this coming. Billionaire propagandist Rupert Murdoch has nearly single-handedly ruled Australia and Britain through surrogates for decades through a mix of 'dirty digging' - a name Murdoch earned for himself in Britain, possibly using that dirt to extort favors from politicians, and using his overwhelming share of mass media to both attack those who oppose him, and support those who agree to bend to his will.

Presidents Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush collectively relinquished our ability to have access to numerous independent information sources, by allowing transformational media mergers, which have reduced our media diversity from about 50 unique entities in the 1980's to about five today. And contrary to what Murdoch's Fox Fake News repeatedly promotes, it's not the voters who are now deciding - but rather those like Murdoch who provide the voters with the information they use to make their electoral decisions. The mass media owners are the real deciders.

So that's how we got where we are today. As we're facing the possibility of a non-choice election in 2020 - between two autocratic NYC billionaires who seem to rule in favor of the top 1% - the choice between Donald J. Trump and Michael Bloomberg.

If we let the billionaire class take and keep the top spot, it will become increasingly difficult to win back our democracy and hear the diverse voices of the people.

The rest of this Presidents Day report includes a look into the Trump Administration:

  • 1) Corrupton: Financial Incest in the Oval Office,
  • 2) Courtiers: Rudy & the Royal Republican Boot Lickers,
  • 3) Be Best Bullies: Breaking the Law with Impunity,
  • 4) Rigged Republicans: Using Public Money & Power to Further Family & Friend's Interests,
  • 5) Criminal King: Undermining Rule of Law,
  • 6) Back to Royal Incompetence: Hiring Royal Loyals versus People of Merit and
  • 7) The Great American Sell Out: Commander-in-Chief Big Mouth seems to compromise American Security & Foreign Policy.


State of the Union Dividers: Rupert & the Donald

February 4, 2020 / U.S. Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

rupert murdoch fox fake news rupert murdoch donald trump fake president fake newsThe Donald delivered his State of the Union Address in what was yet another one of his divisive speeches. It seems he's no longer talking to the nation as a whole - but that he's primarily talking to Rupert Murdoch's Fox Nation.

Plunderers always seek to divide, to destructively exploit community divisions, in order to further their own agenda.

Conversely real leaders seek to unite people around issues they can agree upon, in order to move forward with efforts that benefit the whole community.

Founding Father John Dickinson told the American people, prior to the Revolutionary War, that "United we stand. Divided we fall.". This is as true today as it was back then.

And Benjamin Franklin warned Americans at the Constitutional Convention that we had "A republic ... if you can keep it." Right now there are numerous powerful, deceptive and manipulative forces - both domestic and foreign - working relentlessly and insidiously to take our democracy and the rule of law away from us.

This year we, as a nation, will decide who we really are, and whether we can keep the republic.

Australia and Britain currently have failed democracies due to Murdoch's mass media manipulations. Murdoch through his overwhelming share of media in those nations, appears to nearly single-handedly pick their leaders.

The pinocchio pundits on Murdoch's monopolistic & oligopolistic share of national media outlets cry out "Let the Voters Decide", because they know the majority of voters will decide using Murdoch's corrupt presentation of the news. So what they're really saying is "Let Murdoch & Us Decide." Here's just one example of seemingly innumerable Murdoch mass media reports that distort the truth to their audience - this one was in the NY Propaganda Post.

Murdoch & the Rise of the 21st Century Propaganda Press Report Series. Click on the image above to see our report series on Rupert Murdoch's Fox Fake News Machine. You'll find our reports showing Murdoch's fake news is the biggest, possibly the first, and one of the most - if not the most - deceptive and thus dishonest media corporations in modern times in many areas of the English-speaking western world.

Dysfunctional Donald Report Series. Click here to read prior reports posted on the dysfunctional presidency of Donald Trump, including reports on his early attacks on the media, on his increase in the Defense budget even though the U.S. spends more on Defense than the next seven other nations in the world COMBINED, Trump's tax cut giveaway to the richest people on the planet which he funded by taking loans out on the backs of America's children, Trump's attacks on America's law enforcement and judicial institutions, his prior association with mobsters and the Russians, the Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, his losses in the 2016 midterm elections, and his endless stream of lies.

It's not a pretty picture, but it's based on the facts.


Closure of Rikers Island Moves Another Step Forward

In Oct 2019 NYC Council Designated Neighborhood Jail Locations in Four Boroughs

Community Board One in Astoria Only Approved the Closure of Rikers Island

rikers island closing rikers island correctional facility history rikers island development astoria queens rikers island hunts point bronxJanuary 26, 2020 / Bronx Neighborhoods / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics / Bronx Politics & Government / Queens Buzz NYC & Bronx Buzz NYC.

A week ago, on Tuesday, January 21st I attended the Community Board One meeting at the Astoria World Manor where the board was asked to approve the closing of the Rikers Island Detention Facility effective sometime before the end of the year 2026.

The photo at right was taken from an airplane while landing at LaGuardia in a prior year. Rikers Island Correctional Facility is a stone's throw away from LGA.

 

Queens Community Board One in Astoria Votes on Rikers Closure

The presentation consisted of two slides. One highlighted the social / moral blight that Rikers Island had become. The second slide simply proposed the request in very limited terms - the closing of Rikers Island and the conversion of it to a ‘public place’. The presentation to the Committee was done by a team lead by Dana Kaplan, Deputy Director of the NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice.

So please note that the Community Board had no role in the placement of neighborhood jails, nor did they sign off on anything that may become of Rikers Island going forward. They only approved the closing of the Correctional Facility and the allowance of use for it as a "public place".

I spoke with CB1 District Manager Florence Kolouris after the meeting about what exactly that meant. She told me that there isn’t any definition, per se, given for public place – but a couple of examples of prior public places include Lincoln Center, Fort Totten and Queens Borough Hall.

The Community Board approved the measure with a recommendation that CB1 be kept in the loop throughout the closing process, including any demolition. Plenty of questions followed regarding what would become of the 400 acre island. Nothing concrete was proposed at this time, but the audience was assured that any changes would have to come through the Community Board via the ULURP process [Uniform Land Use Review Procedure].

 

The Bronx & Queens - Rikers Island Community Jurisdiction & Prison Population

rikers island closing rikers island correctional facility history rikers island development astoria queens rikers island hunts point bronxIt’s worth noting that technically Rikers Island is a part of the Bronx – not Queens – even though the only road traveling onto the island originates in the Astoria / East Elmhurst neighborhoods of Queens. In addition to Queens Community Board One, Bronx Community Board Two, representing the Hunts Point neighborhood, also has influence over the island. Since the Dinkins Administration in the 1990's, there's been a floating barge facility that's docked in Hunts Point, that is considered a part of the Rikers Island Correctional Facility.

Currently there are an estimated 7,000 plus inmates on Rikers Island. At its height, in 1991, Rikers Island held an estimated overcapacity inmate population of nearly 22,000. By the time the facility is to be closed in 2026, the inmate population is expected to have declined to between 3,000 and 4,000.

The photo at right shows the Rikers Island Correctional Facility which will be closed by the end of 2026.


Michael Bloomberg Record - The Part You Won't See in His Ads | michael bloomberg nyc mayor record mike bloomberg for president mike bloomberg corrupt michael bloomberg democrat republican independent mike bloomberg candidate for president
Michael Bloomberg Record - The Part You Won't See in His Ads

Michael Bloomberg's Real Record as NYC Mayor

This Contains the Part of Bloomberg's Record You Won't See in His Ad Campaign

December 16, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

I started reporting for Queens Buzz in the second half of 2007, in anticipation of the website opening in 2008. At the time, politics wasn't in the docket. But over time, as I watched government and political events unfold, I couldn't ignore the huge gap between what was happening - versus what was reported to be happening.

Thus over time I began reporting on NYC, NYS and eventually national politics, doing in-depth research along the way, so that I could provide our readers with a fresh point of view, based on facts and knowledge, with scant pandering to the politicial spin.

While I only began tuning into NYC politics as a reporter during Michael Bloomberg's third term, I had picked up information about him prior to that as an aware NYC resident / voter. My first glimpse into Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-democratic tendencies came about in 2004, during the Republican Presidential Convention, when Bloomberg appeared to illegally lock up people protesting the wars and policies of then president George W. Bush. But before I delve into that aspect of Bloomberg's performance, I want to highlight a few others.

Disdains Democracy: Overturns Mayoral Term Limits

michael bloomberg mayor bloomberg corruption bloomberg record as nyc mayorIn 2008, just a year before former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was about to be term limited out of the Mayor's Office, he convinced the NYC City Council to override the plebiscite that term limited his time in office as the Mayor.

Thus Michael Bloomberg sought and won a third term - which he essentially bought - by funding his campaign with nearly $100 million of his own money, to defeat an relatively unknown candidate, retiring City Comptroller Bill Thompson.

Thompson was not given much support by the Democratic Party in that election, likely because they didn't believe he would do anywhere near as well as he did, and they were competing with a billionaire who could / would and did greatly outspend the competition. The final vote was 50.7% for Bloomberg and 46.3% for Thompson.

Did Former Mayor Bloomberg Override Term Limits in Order to Cash In NYC's Municipal Real Estate Holdings?

The deals on the Bronx Terminal Market, Hudson Yard, Hunters Point South & Flushing Meadow Corona Park were all begun in 2007. So were the two multi-billion dollar [each] subway line extension projects - the Q and the #7.

All of the real estate developments and the two major subway infrastructure projects seemed to greatly benefit one person - Stephen Ross and his privately held Related Companies. Stephen Ross went from not being counted as a billionaire at the beginning of Bloomberg's Mayoralty, to becoming the richest real estate developer in New York City within a couple of years after he took office.

It's worth noting that Bloomberg's net worth during this period shot up too. And that Bloomberg LLP, the company he founded, also operates in NYC and is also privately held.

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Real Record as Mayor

The Real Record of Mike Bloomberg's Accomplishments as Mayor - Doubling of Homelessnes, Taxpayer Funded but Privately Owned Luxury Apartments, Massive Public Land Giveaways to Friendly Developer, Massive Public Transit Spending Benefitting Same Developer, Privatization / Profitization of Many Public Schools, Failure to Negotiate with Unions, City Time Scandal & Racist Stop N' Frisk Policing Program

The report includes:

michael bloombergs record as nyc mayor mike bloomberg accomplishments mike bloomberg record mayor nyc1) HOMELESSNESS: Bloomberg had a horrendous record on homelessness which broke all records & doubled during his Mayoralty.

2) AFFORDABLE HOUSING: Bloomberg sold the public on funding 'affordable' apartments that rented for $48,000 per year. These were publicly funded but privately owned apartment units that Bloomberg sold to the public as 'affordable' in order to gain passage of the bills authorizing them.

3) PUBLIC LAND GRAB. Four huge real estate developments appeared to be given to Stephen Ross & Related Companies which are now worth billions. The public lands reportedly sold for $1 apiece include Hudson Yard, Hunters Point South and the still pending Flushing Meadows Corona Park development. I'm not sure but Bronx Terminal was also transferred in a sweet deal to the real estate developer Stephen Ross & Related Companies.

4) PUBLIC SPENDING BENEFITTING FRIENDLY DEVELOPER. Bloomberg pushed two subway line extensions that seemed to disproportionately benefit Stephen Ross & Related Companies. The subway line extensions were 1) the #7 subway line extension that supported Stephen Ross & Related Companies Hudson Yard development and 2) the Q subway line extension which greatly enhanced the value of Stephen Ross and Related Companies Upper East Side properties.

5) PRIVATIZATION OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Bloomberg's privatization of a significant portion of the NYC public school system which appeared to tear apart the NYC public school system by enabling for profit private charter schools, disproportionately favoring Eva Moskowitz and Success Academy, to recruit the best students of the NYC public school system, while leaving the rest behind in the hands of the public and unions;

6) UNION BUSTER? Bloomberg's failure to sign a single major union contract during his 12 year administration and the

7) GIULIANI / BLOOMBERG CORRUPTION. City Time corruption scandal.

8) RACIST POLICING POLICY. Presided over racist Stop N' Frisk policing policy.

CLICK here to read the rest of our report on the part of the Mike Bloomberg's record of Mayor. The part of the Bloomberg record you won't see in his $33 million ad campaign to convince Democrats to vote for him. Billionaire Bloomberg, like the billionaire President, seems to have an inclination to distort the truth.



The Road Ahead 2020

A Few Axioms To Keep In Mind Throughout The New Year

things to do manhattan this weekendJanuary 2, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Holidays / Gotham Buzz NYC.

For all of us, tomorrow starts the beginning of the new year.

I used to make new years resolutions that generally lasted a few days or few weeks. Over time I've given that up and have focused on a few guiding principles that I work toward throughout the year, every year.

MB - S.

1. The first guidepost is to keep things as simple as possible by letting things go, so you can change and evolve who you are. Over time it's important to learn to let go of the past which includes letting many of the people, projects and things - once so meaningful and relevant - to fade away with time. This process involves discarding much of what one collects, in order to open up space in your life to make room for new possibilities.

2. The second guidepost is to take care of the vessel that carries one's being - meaning take care of your body because it's the only one you'll ever get, and it has to last an entire lifetime. This means consuming the foods that will enable the body to function properly and ward off disease, while recognizing that satisfying the mind is important too, as it's a part of the body. There are three elements to this guideline.

a _ Try to maximize consumption of natural foods while managing / minimalizing consumption of the delicious processed foods that come in packages. Read package container nutrition labels which indicate the amount of fat, sugar, sodium and cholesterol consumed per serving. You can manage the balance of natural and processed foods depending on what's going on in life, meaning leaning toward natural foods to take care of the body, and leaning toward tasty processed foods to treat your mind.

b _ Reduce consumption of toxins by first paying attention to the quantities consumed of them, and then by substituting the toxins with healthier choices. For example dilute a soft drink with seltzer water [cuts sugar], or swap in a lemonade for a beer [cuts alcohol], or swap in pretzels for potato chips [cuts salt and fat]. Over the years these little substitutions can add up to some fair measure of weight loss or stability, and can aid in maintaining generally good health. But it's also important not to deprive oneself, too much, of some of the simple pleasures in life that keep one going - experience tells us not to be too draconian, or you can expect a subconscious rebellion, and then your program doesn't work.

c _ The third element of this guidepost is to try to walk and bike whenever possible. It's a good way to kill two birds with one stone, as it enables getting somewhere, while also getting some exercise. And be sure to carve out enough time each night, for a proper rest.

3. The third guidepost is to try to move your life in the direction of your interests. This will likely take a great many years, as well as needing to make a good number of economic and other lifestyle trade offs. But if successful, you can then spend most of your time doing the things that totally engage you. It's said that "when someone is doing something they truly love, they'll never have to work another day in their life."

4. The fourth guidepost is to keep on learning, because "luck is when preparation meets opportunity". So the more you learn, and the more experience you get, the better prepared you'll be ... come what may.

May your new year be filled with promise and possibilities. Best wishes for a happy and successful 2020.


* SHOPPING

HOLIDAY MKTS BROOKLYN & STATEN respectively 1468 / 1469

Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do - Brooklyn NYC | brooklyn holiday events holiday things to do brooklyn nyc Brooklyn christmas tree lightings menorah lightings kwanza candle lightings sunset park, brighton beach, fort hamilton, brooklyn heights, prospect park halloween parties, park slope, bayridge, greenpoint, williamsburg, flatbush, bushwick holiday events things to do bedford stuyvesant, crown heights and brownsville brooklyn holiday events holiday things to do brooklyn nyc
Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do - Brooklyn NYC

Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do NYC

Brooklyn Holiday Things To Do - Christmas Tree Lightings, Brooklyn Hanukkah Menorah Lightings & Kwanzaa Holiday Candle Lightings

December 28, 2018 / Brooklyn Neighborhoods / NYC Shopping / Brooklyn BLVD NYC.

Community holiday events have been on the rise in Brooklyn since the start of the 21st century. While some date back many years, even prior to the start of the 21st century, many are relatively new.

Enjoying a community get together around the holidays is a good way to share in other people's cultures and strengthen the human bonds that transcend cultural variation. Or conversely, an opportunity to share your cultural upbringing with others.

Each of the Brooklyn holiday events is a bit different, as some are organized by community groups, local government officials and others by business organizations. Oftentimes one can find artisanal products that are made in NYC or NYS for sale, but we've dedicated a special section to announcing Brooklyn Holiday Markets & Shopping - Brooklyn NYC.

Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do Getting Underway

The Brooklyn holiday events get underway shortly after Halloween, with some coming opening up about the time of Thanksgiving. The Brooklyn holiday events are located in or near the following Brooklyn neighborhoods - Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Bayridge, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Dyker Heights. Many either include the serving of some beverage like hot chocolate and generally snacks like cookies - or are near food vendors and restaurants.

Click here to read our report about Brooklyn Holiday Events / Holiday Things To Do in Brooklyn NYC.



Brooklyn Holiday Markets & Holiday Shopping - Brooklyn NYC

Brooklyn Holiday Markets, Christmas Shopping & Hanukkah Shopping

Brooklyn Christmas Shopping, Hanukkah Shopping & Brooklyn Holiday Markets

brooklyn holiday markets brooklyn holiday shopping brooklyn hanukkah shopping brooklyn christmas shopping xmas markets brooklyn nycNovember 19, 2019 / Brooklyn Neighborhoods / Brooklyn Shopping / Brooklyn Blvd NYC.

Holiday outdoor markets have been on the rise in Brooklyn since the dawn of the 21st century. While some date back many years, some are relatively new.

Shopping at holiday markets alone, with friends, or with the kids gives folks a chance to enjoy the fruits of their labor and satisfy some of their yearnings and some of the yearnings of those we love.

Each of the Brooklyn holiday markets is a bit different, as some are organized by community groups and others by business organizations. Oftentimes one can find artisanal products that are made in NYC or NYS.

Brooklyn Holiday Markets Getting Underway

The Brooklyn holiday markets get underway shortly after Halloween, with some coming opening up about the time of Thanksgiving. The Brooklyn holiday markets are located in or near the following Brooklyn neighborhoods - Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Bayridge, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Dyker Heights. Many either include the serving of some beverage like hot chocolate and generally snacks like cookies - or are near food vendors and restaurants.

Click here to read our report about Brooklyn Holiday Markets & Shopping - Brooklyn NYC.



Staten Island Holiday Markets Shopping & Events - Staten Island NYC | staten island holiday shopping holiday markets staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, holiday events christmas lightings menorah lightings manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island holiday markets shopping staten island nyc
Staten Island Holiday Markets Shopping & Events - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island Holiday Markets, Holiday Events, Christmas Shopping & Holiday Things To Do

Staten Island Christmas Tree Lightings, Staten Island Menorah Lightings Hanukkah, Staten Island Holiday Markets & Holiday Shopping

Updated December 4, 2018 / November 24, 2018 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Shopping / Staten Island Buzz NYC.

The holidays are a special time of the year. In ancient times there were harvest celebrations to give thanks and enjoy the bounty after a long growing and harvesting season aka a year of work.

THESE HOLIDAY EVENT & HOLIDAY MARKETS ARE ORGANIZED

1. BY NEIGHBORHOODS OF STATEN ISLAND

2. And BY DATE

Watch carefully as some locales have multiple dates, and all dates for a given locale are shown at the time the venue is first listed.

And there were also winter solstice celebrations to commemorate the end of the darkening of the skies. Some cultures celebrate with a festival of lights, and in Christian cultures the holidays are marked with holiday lightings including tree lightings and candle lightings - as well as the celebration of giving through the most well known and most generous man in the world - Santa Claus.

Meanwhile, back on Staten Island we celebrate in a number of ways, which carry on some of these ancient traditions. The following provides the dates / times / locales and some details regarding many of the various Staten Island holiday celebrations and Staten Island holiday markets and shopping for folks to enjoy between now and the end of the year.

Click here to read our report about Staten Island Holiday Events / Holiday Things To Do & Staten Island Holiday Markets & Shopping.



 

 

THANKSGIVING / VOTE NOV 2019

Thanksgiving Day - America's Communal Holiday NYC | thanksgiving day sentiments thanksgiving day editorials nyc thanksgiving day meaning of nyc
Thanksgiving Day - America's Communal Holiday NYC

Thanksgiving - America's Communal Holiday

The Pilgrims Legacy: Love, Sharing & Community Empowerment

November 25, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / Thanksgiving Holidays in NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Last year I happened upon a childhood book of fables and fairytales that I had saved since I was a first grader. I was young enough to still like fairytales and old enough to be learning and loving to read. The book, A Gateway to Storyland, by Platt & Munk Co, was given to me around the holidays, and the book still gives me a warm, loved feeling when I periodically open it [see photo at right and it's still in print]. I read it numerous times after I received it, as the illustrations fed the imagination, and lessons embedded in the words resonated with wisdom.

 

Unselfish Parental Love Manifested by Empowering Progeny

Love comes in many forms, but the purest form is unselfish love. The love of truly giving something with no thought of anything in return. That love is oftentimes given intergenerationally - from grandparents to parents to children.

Perhaps the greatest gifts are those that cost us nothing but our time. Like the gift of teaching someone something that they will be able to put to good use throughout their lives. Parents do this all the time, when they teach their children's skills and impart some knowledge and wisdom ... just as my parents did many years ago, by giving me a well illustrated fairytale book to encourage my learning to read, while sharing the time tested wisdom of the ages, handed down in fables and fairytales.

The Pilgrims Shared Communal Resources to Actualize a Dream

At Thanksgiving time we commemorate one of America's first settlements, founded by the risk-taking, resource-pooling, hardworking, spiritual community of Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims were early English settlers who arrived on American shores in the early 17th century [1600's]. They came here because they wanted a measure of freedom and self-determination that they were forbidden in Europe or what was called the 'old country'. The Pilgrims wanted to practice their faith, unencumbered, in a way that differed from the established Church of England. They pooled their money to obtain a ship, the Mayflower, to cross the Atlantic in mid September of 1620, landing on America's shores at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts on November 9, 1620.

 

The Pilgrims Receive Help from the Native People of a Strange Land

Per Wikipedia, the Piligrims survived a hard winter in 1621 with the help of the Wampanoag, an American Indian tribe. The Pilgrims were the immigrants, and the first Americans, the Indian natives, welcomed them. The Wampanaog taught the Pilgrims how to catch eels, and how to grow and harvest corn. Thus the Pilgrims ended 1621 with a good harvest which they celebrated and shared with their new friends, expressing their thanks to a higher power, aka God, for the success of their endeavors.

Thus it was that the first Thanksgiving celebration happened in America ... or did it?



NYC Municipal Elections Nov 2019 - NYC Charter Revisions on Ballot Queens DA Race & Public Advocate | nyc municipal elections 2019 nyc elections nyc charter revisions on ballot queens DA race nyc public advocate
NYC Municipal Elections Nov 2019 - NYC Charter Revisions on Ballot Queens DA Race & Public Advocate

Please Vote Tuesday, 11/5 NYC Municipal Elections

NYC Public Advocate, Queens District Attorney, Brooklyn District 45 NYC Councilmember Races & Changes to NYC Charter to be Decided

November 4, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Government & Politics / Gotham Buzz NYC.

The polling booths will be open from 6 am to 9 pm Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

To find your poll location click on the graphic above.

Once on the website, input your address, and then click the icon to get the results of the search.

PLEASE BE ADVISED that as of Sunday evening, the first poll site shown was the one used for EARLY VOTING, which at this point has ended, so scroll down to be sure you are going to the correct Poll site on Election Day.




brooklyn neighborhoods brooklyn things to do brooklyn events brooklyn nyc bk nyc


* BROOKLYN

NYC MARATHON 2019

NYC Marathon in Brooklyn Queens Manhattan Bronx Staten Island NYC Marathon 2019 | nyc marathon all 5 nyc boroughs nyc marathon manhattan brooklyn bronx queens staten island new york city marathon nyc
NYC Marathon in Brooklyn Queens Manhattan Bronx Staten Island NYC Marathon 2019

NYC Marathon Coming Through All Five Boroughs

New York Road Runners 49th NYC Marathon on Sunday

October 29, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Government & Politics / Gotham Buzz NYC.

The New York Road Runners / NYRR is hosting its 49th NYC Marathon on Sunday. The NYRR was founded in 1958 and has been organizing the NYC Marathon since 1970. The proceeds from the race go toward the programs of the runner non-profit. They report that the NYRR serves 670,000 people, of which 250,000 are youth, annually.

There are plenty of festivities this week surrounding the affair. Some are held at the NYRR Run Center [NYRR headquarters] at 320 West 57th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues in Manhattan, while others are held at the NYC Marathon Pavilion in Central Park at 67th Street and Central Park West, near the Tavern on the Green in Manhattan.

The other pre-race activities [see location addresses above] include a discussion on Tuesday about the NYC Marathon Book Club from 6 - 8 pm at the NYC Marathon Pavilion. On Wednesday there's a forum of Celebrity Charity Runners who talk about why they are running at the NYC Marathon Pavilion from 7 - 8 pm. On Thursday evening between 6 and 7 pm the NYRR presents the awards for the NYRR Hall of Fame inductees at the NYC Marathon Pavilion. On Friday at the NYRR Run Center there's an NYRR Running History Tour which runs from 10 - 11.30 am.

The pre-race festivities culminate the Saturday evening before the race, when there's an early dinner [3.30 - 8.30 pm] for the runners at the NYC Marathon Pavilion that is prepared by the chefs from Tavern on the Green. They call it the Marathon Eve Dinner. It has a sort of holiday ring to it.




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* STATEN ISLAND

Casa Belvedere and the Festa & Motori D'Italia

9th Annual Festa & Motori D'Italia Keeps the Engine Running on All Cylinders

September 23, 2019 / Grymes Hill Neighborhood Staten Island / Things to do on Staten Island / Staten Buzz NYC.

I attended the Festa & Motori D'Italia at the Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere on Staten Island. The following video captures most of what I experienced - save for the delicious aromas floating in the air.


manhattan neighborhoods manhattan things to do manhattan events manhattan nyc


* MANHATTAN

Greta Thunberg at Climate Strike in Battery Park NYC 2019

Tens of Thousands Showed for the Climate Strike - NBC Estimated 60,000

September 20, 2019 / Downtown NYC / Manhattan Buzz NYC.

I attended the Climate Strike in Battery Park Friday late afternoon. It was a beautiful day and thousands had shown up to rally support for changing how we live in order to avert the disaster of irreparably destroying the ecosystem which supports life on the planet. Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg was there and spoke at the rally. The video below provides views of the crowd, some of their signs, a poetry performance, a musical performance and some of Greta's remarks. Stay tuned next week as the United Nations meets and Greta visits the U.N. to implore them to take action.


queens neighborhoods queens things to do queens events queens nyc


* QUEENS / NEIGHBORHOOD POLICING LIC

NYPD Neighborhood Police Program NYC | nypd neighborhood police program nyc nypd neighborhood police long island city queens nyc nypd neighborhood policing
NYPD Neighborhood Police Program NYC

Neighborhood Policing in Queens & NYC

The NYPD Program Helps Build Trust & Stronger Community Relationships

August 28, 2019 / Long Island City Neighborhood / Queens Community Issues / NYC Neighborhoods / Queens Buzz NYC.

Last night I attended one of the New York Police Department Neighborhood Policing programs. It was held at the Information and Technology High School on 44th Road in LIC beginning at 7 pm. The NYPD Neighborhood Policing program began in 2015 under the leadership of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and was rolled out under the leadership of NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill who replaced Bratton in 2016. The program became citywide in 2019.

In the photo at right are the two NYPD Police Officers in charge of the 108th Precinct Neighborhood Policing program - Jorge Ozuna and Andrew Ali.

The NYPD Neighborhood Policing program is designed to build trust and a robust two-way communication mechanism between the New York Police Department and the neighborhoods they serve. To that end the NYPD works to enable the same officers patrol the same neighborhoods at the same times / shifts in order to build a consistent rapport between the officers and the neighborhoods they serve. By building this two-way conversation about community safety and other policing issues, the NYPD becomes more aware of the concerns of neighborhood businesses and residents. Conversely, the folks living in a neighborhood develop a rapport and trust in the NYPD staff who patrol their communities, which enables the residents to collaborate with the police in ensuring community safety.

It makes perfect sense, which causes one to wonder why we're only getting to this place now.




bronx neighborhoods bronx things to do bronx events bronx nyc


* BRONX

IDC Challengers' Rallies Sunday

Challenging Republicans Posing as NYS Senate Democrats?

April 28, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / Gotham Buzz NYC.

nyc politics nyc government no idc rallies tru blue rallies nycI just received an email notifying me of simultaneous rallies which will be held by IDC [Independent Democratic Caucus] member CHALLENGERS within the NYC Metro area. The members of the IDC, who these challengers are rallying against, have been caucusing with the Republicans since 2010 / 2011. By caucusing with the Republicans, the IDC Democrats have provided Republicans with a majority in the NYS Senate. Thus the IDC members appear to be Republicans running as Democrats on the Democratic ticket.

The IDC CHALLENGER rallies are intended to inform the electorate as to how their IDC electeds have been (mis?) representing them - as well as how the challengers would like to represent them - should they be given the chance.

"In an unprecedented show of strength and unity following the release of their joint statement about their agenda, the candidates will set forth their visions for their districts and will enlist those present at the rallies in registering voters, canvassing, and the like in preparation for the Thursday, September 13, 2018 primary election."

"The rallies will explain the need to replace the former IDC members with true blue Democrats whom we can trust not to turn their backs on the people who elected them. The IDC may have rejoined the Democrats for now, but they've been willing to ally themselves with the GOP since 2011 - and they've claimed to return to the Democratic fold before. The damage is done and we will not forget. New York deserves REAL Democrats who stand for progressive values, not Trump Democrats."

SUNDAY Rally Details:

  • Blue Wave Rally for Jessica Ramos, April 29, 2 PM, 31-04 Ditmar Blvd., Intersection at 31st Street Astoria, Queens.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Alessandra Biaggi, April 29, 2-3 PM, Memorial Grove in Van Cortland Park, Bronx. Memorial Grove is located in Van Cortlandt Park, near West 246 Street between Broadway and the Van Cortlandt Mansion - see map above.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Robert Jackson, April 29, 1:30-2:30 PM, at Bennett Park, W 183rd St & Fort Washington Avenue, Manhattan.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Rachel May, April 29, 2-3 PM, State Office Building, 301 East Washington Street, Syracuse.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Zellnor Myrie, April 29, 2-3 PM, at the Prospect Park subway stop, on Lincoln Avenue between Flatbush and Ocean Avenues, Brooklyn.
  • Blue Wave Rally for Jasmine Robinson, April 29, 2-3 PM, at Tappen Park, Staten Island (near the Stapleton SIR stop).
  • Blue Wave Rally to Make NY True Blue in SD38, April 29, 2-3, at 20 South Main Street, New City, NY
  • Blue Wave Rally to Make NY True Blue in SD21, April 29, 2-3 PM, Bell Boulevard at 73rd Avenue, Oakland Gardens, Queens

Press contacts:

  • Rise and Resist: Claire Ullman, 917-679-7120
  • True Blue NY: Lisa DellAquila, co-leader, 917-991-0605
  • Jackson campaign: Harris Doran, 917-797-6180
  • Myrie campaign: Andre Richardson (campaign manager), 201-892-5829, andrerichardson@gmail.com
  • Robinson campaign: Jane Nixon Willis, 914-584-2833; improvised3@gmail.com
  • Ramos campaign: Monica Klein, 917-565-0715, monica@seneca-strategies.com
  • Biaggi campaign: Dominique Shuminova, Deputy Campaign Manager, 917-821-7700
  • Avella protest: Judy Kirschner from Rise and Resist, 917-270-2705
  • Carlucci protest: John Gromada from Rockland Citizens Action, (845) 323-9896

Scroll down for related story or click here for the full story about the Independent Democratic Caucus & members.


nyc arts nyc culture nyc sports nyc parks nyc


* ART & CULTURE

Snug Harbor Fence Show on Staten Island

69th Annual Art Show Organized by the Staten Island Museum

October 1, 2019 / Randall Manor Neighborhood Staten Island / Things to do on Staten Island / Staten Buzz NYC.

I attended the 69th Annual Snug Harbor Fence Show on Staten Island on Saturday. The show included about 150 exhibiting artists, primarily from Staten Island, but also neighboring NYC boroughs and New Jersey. There were food and beverage vendors, an accomplished jazz group - the Musical Chairs Chamber Ensemble - as well as plenty of interesting artworks that ranged from ceramics, to clothing and jewelry, to all sorts of art on canvass and other materials. The crowd the show attracted was also an eclectic group of art lovers, art exhibitors and curious Staten Islanders [it's free admission]. See video to take in a couple of minutes of the ambiance of the show.


nyc arts nyc culture nyc sports nyc parks nyc


* SPORTS

Only in Queens: The U.S. Open & the USTA

Intergenerational Tennis Wins: Nadal Defeats Medvedev & Andreescu Defeats Williams

renovated usta flushing renovated usta billie jean king national tennis center queens nycSeptember 10, 2019 / Flushing Neighborhood / Sports in Queens / Queens Buzz NYC.

In the week leading up to the U.S. Open the USTA opens its doors to the Flushing, Queens and NYC community. They host a number of tennis related events, and provide opportunities for those who visit to watch the pros practice on the courts. The week culminated in Arthur Ashe Kid Day at the end of the week and families from the NYC metro area, most notably Queens come in droves to take in the rich atmosphere of the newly renovated USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

I had the opportunity to visit this year, which was enhanced by being able to photograph and video a shirtless Rafael Nadal - who won the men’s title this year, complete with ripped abs - while practicing. See video later in the story.


nyc arts nyc culture nyc sports nyc parks nyc


NYC BOROS HISTORY


nyc politics nyc government new york city


* GOVERNMENT

QB1196 _ Report about Katz - Bx, M, Q sites.

Why do Real Estate Developers Favor Katz for Queens District Attorney?

Tenants Pay Heed: Katz Became a Real Estate Development Lobbyist for Greenberg Traurig After Chairing the Land Use Committee in the NYC Council

This report covers campaign tricks, the phony Queens Library 'corruption scandal', the alleged Curtis Sliwa affair and something about a Katz Fundraiser at restaurant with Alleged Mob ties ...

queens district attorney candidates queens da race queensJune 17, 2019 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics NYC / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz NYC.

We’re a week away from Election Day for the Queens District Attorney Office. Melinda Katz, whose candidacy was once believed to be a shoo-in - based on her Borough-wide name recognition and the unmitigated support of the Queens Democratic machine.

 

Is Melinda Katz Candidacy for District Attorney Faltering?

It now appears that her candidacy may be in jeopardy as the Queens Democratic machine called upon Governor Cuomo to help raise funds to either stop or slow Katz’s accelerating slide in the polls. It’s worth mentioning that the Cuomo’s June 10th fundraiser was not held in Queens – where it should have been – but rather in Manhattan [where the real estate developers are?].

 

IT'S NOT FUNDING - The Real Estate Cash has been Pouring In

Is Melinda Katz’s Candidacy Faltering Because she doesn’t have the Qualifications or Because she has shown little interest in Criminal Justice until she Began Running for the Queens DA Office?

queens district attorney candidates queens da candidates melinda katz tiffany caban gregory lasak queens district atty candidatesBut it’s not funding that Katz needs help with. It’s her lack of criminal justice education, her complete lack of experience in the criminal justice system, and her lack of interest in criminal justice issues over her entire career until about six months ago.

As a point of contrast it’s worth noting that Queens District Attorney candidate and NYC Councilmember Rory Lancman also lacks a criminal justice degree and experience – but at least he served on committees that focused on the topic and dealt with the issues – which Melinda Katz has not. The focus of Katz’s early political career was on women’s and health issues, and the rest of her public career largely centered on Land Use / real estate development, as she was Chair of the Standing Committee on Land Use during her time as a NYC Councilmember.

Both she and Lancman are in term limited positions which expire at the end of 2021, which in political terms, is just around the corner. The Queens District Attorney Office is not term limited and the last Queens DA, Richard Brown, served in that position nearly three decades [28 years]. Richard Brown recently died, at age 86, at home on May 3, 2019.

 

Real Estate Development Lawsuits in Queens

In recent years there have been a myriad of lawsuits involving real estate developers in Queens. These center around harassment, contested evictions and around safe work practices for contractors and employees. Unfortunately I don’t have time to enumerate them, but you can do a search on this yourself using the search string ‘Queens real estate developers lawsuits’.


queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney race


Queens Voters have a Couple of Other Very Qualified Candidates – One Conservative & One Liberal

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceThe two leading candidates with criminal justice degrees and experience are former Judge Gregory Lasak and Public Defender Tiffany Caban. Former Judge Gregory Lasak has a career spanning more than three decades working in the criminal justice system, and Tiffany Caban has spent seven years working in the criminal justice system as a Legal Aid Society attorney and Public Defender. The choice here is pretty clear as Judge Lasak is a go-slow advocate of reform, while Tiffany Caban is a passionate advocate of reform. But at least both of these candidates have qualifications that fit the job.

There’s an old saying in business that goes something like this, “You can’t manage a process you don’t understand. And you can’t understand a process unless you’ve done it.”

 

 

Melinda Katz runs as both the Establishment & Reform Candidate

FLIP FLOPS: Is Katz Really the Candidate of Developers & Landlords?

queens da candidates rory lancman betty lugo jose nieves mina malik queens district atty candidates queens district attorney raceAs for Katz’s message – it’s unclear for what she really stands. At times she claims she’s a reformer, but we’ve seen little in the way of reform initiated by Katz over the past decade - and likely far longer - possibly ending in the late 1990’s or early 2000’s when she became a City Councilmember on the Land Use committee.

Not that long ago she reportedly backed capital punishment. And up until recently she backed cash bail, reportedly flip flopping on the issue particulars. And while she has said she supports the closing of Rikers Island and replacing it with borough centric jails [so the inmates can maintain their connections to family and community while awaiting trial], she appears to have taken the position of “not in my backyard” as the proposed replacement in Queens would be near Borough Hall where there’s already a jail. To help put this in perspective it’s worth noting that Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. submitted a request that that is where the Bronx replacement facility for Rikers be placed.

 

 

Melinda Katz becomes a Real Estate Lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig in 2010

queens district attorney candidates queens da candidates melinda katz tiffany caban gregory lasak queens district atty candidatesIn 2010 Katz took a lobbyist at Greenberg Traurig, working on real estate development deals, which seemed to strengthen her ties to the real estate development community in general, and Boston Properties controlled by billionaire real estate developer and [at the time] the NY Daily News Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman in particular. Essentially she helped clients navigate their way through city and state government bodies [some of which she had previously worked on as a representative of the public] in order to get the real estate development deals deals done.

 

  • CLICK for the rest of our report on Melinda Katz - Queens DA candidates - the report covers 'dirty tricks', the phony Queens Library 'corruption scandal', the alleged Curtis Sliwa affair and something about a mob restaurant.

GB Q _ Queens District Attorney Debate

Includes Video of Highlights from the Debate in Jamaica

melinda katz queens da candidate tiffany caban queens district attorney office candidates queens da debate queens nycJune 11, 2019 / Queens Neighborhoods / Queens Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Queens Buzz NYC.

In May I had the opportunity to attend the Queens District Attorney debate at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center. It was the second event, featuring the candidates running for the Queens District Attorney's office, that I attended. This time I focused more intently how well versed each candidate was on the issues to be addressed by the person winning that position, and what qualifications, experience and vision they might bring to the office.

I have noted my first impressions below, which were gleaned while attending a forum in April, to which all candidates were invited to participate at the Jackson Heights Jewish Center. In the second debate, some of these impressions were altered and some of them were confirmed.

The photo above shows the two leading candidates [based on endorsements] running for the Queens District Attorney office - queens DA office candidates 2019 queens District attorney candidates debate queensMelinda Katz and Tiffany Caban. The photo below shows the other two leading candidates running for the Queens District Attorney office - Gregory Lasak and Rory Lancman.

Tiffany Caban has, by far, received donations from more small contributors than any of the candidates. Melinda Katz leads in fundraising, with strong support from the real estate development community for which she spent years [2009 - 2013] working as a lobbyist.

Gregory Lasak and Rory Lancman have also been competitive fundraisers - but neither matching Tiffany Caban's small donor support, nor Melinda Katz's big donor support.

The following video captures about 17 minutes of highlights from the three hour long debate. I decided not to give equal time because many of the statements made were either repetitive or laden with platitudes. Thus former Justice Gregory Lasak and Public Defender Tiffany Caban received the most air time, as they provided real world anecdotes, as well as real world insights into how our criminal justice system functions and how it can be reformed.



nyc restaurants nyc dining nyc food shops shopping food nyc


 

* NEW YEARS 1471 & 1472

Staten Island New Years Parties - Staten Island New Years Eve Restaurants - Staten Island NYC | staten island new years parties staten island nyc st george, snug harbor, west brighton, fort wadsworth, new years restaurants manor heights, clifton, mariners harbor, historic richmond town, south beach, tompkinsville, westerleigh, stapleton, port richmond and tottenville staten island new years staten island nyc
Staten Island New Years Parties - Staten Island New Years Eve Restaurants - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island New Years Eve Parties & NYE Restaurants

Staten Island New Years Eve Parties in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

Updated December 22, 2018 from 11.28.18 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Holiday Events / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

New Years Eve occurs on a Monday this year, meaning that it's going to be an extended party weekend. While the celebrations may begin early on the weekend, the big events will all be held on New Years Eve, thus ending the year.

While New Years Eve is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like St. Patrick's Day, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of New Years Eve parties on Staten Island - New Years Eve restaurants Staten Island.



Brooklyn New Years Parties - Brooklyn New Years Eve Restaurants - Brooklyn NYC | brooklyn new years parties brooklyn nyc st williamsburg greenpoint bushwick fort greene new years restaurants brooklyn heights prospect heights prospect park park slope cobble hill carroll gardens boerum hill sunset park bayridge dyker heights brooklyn new years brooklyn nyc
Brooklyn New Years Parties - Brooklyn New Years Eve Restaurants - Brooklyn NYC

Brooklyn New Years Eve Parties & NYE Restaurants

Brooklyn New Years Eve Parties in near the Dumbo, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Greenwood Heights, Gowanus, Downtown Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Bayridge, Marine Park, Coney Island Neighborhoods of Brooklyn

Dozens of New Additions / Updated December 27, 2018 from 11.28.18 / Brooklyn Neighborhoods / Brooklyn Holiday Events / Brooklyn Events & Things To Do / Brooklyn Restaurants NYC / Brooklyn Blvd NYC.

New Years Eve occurs on a Monday this year, meaning that it's going to be an extended party weekend. While the celebrations may begin early on the weekend, the big events will all be held on New Years Eve, thus ending the year.

While New Years Eve is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like St. Patrick's Day, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of New Years Eve parties in Brooklyn - New Years Eve restaurants Brooklyn.



 

BROOKLYN HALLOWEEN

Brooklyn Halloween Parties - Brooklyn Halloween Restaurants - Brooklyn NYC | brooklyn halloween parties brooklyn nyc Brooklyn halloween restaurants sunset park, brighton beach, fort hamilton, brooklyn heights, prospect park halloween parties, park slope, bayridge, greenpoint, williamsburg, flatbush, bushwick green markets, bedford stuyvesant, crown heights and brownsville brooklyn halloween parades halloween restaurants brooklyn nyc
Brooklyn Halloween Parties - Brooklyn Halloween Restaurants - Brooklyn NYC

Brooklyn Halloween Parties 2019

Halloween Parties in Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope & Other Neighborhoods in Brooklyn

October 28, 2019 / Brooklyn Neighborhoods NYC / Brooklyn Restaurants / Bronx BLVD NYC.

Halloween occurs on a Thursday this year. The Brooklyn Halloween party celebrations begin as early as Friday, October 25th running through the weekend, with some also on Halloween day itself.

Halloween is one big costume party, where the theatrical side of people, is given a small opening. Halloween provides people the opportunity to create and play roles they have wanted to play, that the day-to-day keeps submerged. Is it their Doctor side or their Jekyll side - or something uncategorizable?

In the photo at right are NYC Halloween partyers in an earlier year. Professional actors are paid to assume and perform roles, but on Halloween it's an all-volunteer, unpaid, theatrical free-for-all ... but that very chaos of creativity is what also makes it so much fun.

Click here to read more about our round up of Brooklyn Halloween parties - Brooklyn Halloween restaurants.



 

* RESTAURANTS

ST PAT'S DAY STATEN ISLAND & BROOKLYN respectively

Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Staten Island NYC | Staten Island St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island
Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Staten Island NYC

Staten Island St Patrick's Day Bars, Restaurants & Irish Pubs

Staten Island St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in Castleton, Stapleton, Richmond Town, Great Kills, Rossville, Tompkinsville near St. George, Westerleigh & South Beach Neighborhoods of Staten Island

March 9, 2019 / Staten Island Neighborhoods / Staten Island Holiday Events / Staten Island Events & Things To Do / Staten Island Restaurants NYC / Staten Buzz NYC.

St Patrick's Day is on a Sunday this year, meaning that it's going to be an extended party weekend.

At a later date we'll add a bit of history of St. Patrick's Day.

While St. Patrick's Day is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like New Years Eve, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of some of the Staten Island St Patrick's Day bars, restaurants & Irish pubs - Staten Island NYC.



Brooklyn St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Brooklyn NYC | brooklyn st patricks day bars restaurants irish pubs brooklyn0 st patricks day parties brooklyn st pat's day pubs bars restaurants brooklyn nyc irish pubs Dumbo, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Greenwood Heights, Gowanus, Downtown Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Bayridge, Marine Park, Coney Island st pats day bars restaurants irish pubs brooklyn nyc
Brooklyn St Patrick's Day Bars Restaurants & Irish Pubs - Brooklyn NYC

Brooklyn St Patrick's Day Bars, Restaurants & Irish Pubs

Brooklyn St Pat's Day Irish Pubs in or near the Dumbo, Williamsburg, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Greenpoint, Bushwick, Greenwood Heights, Gowanus, Downtown Brooklyn, Sunset Park, Bayridge, Marine Park, Coney Island Neighborhoods of Brooklyn

March 12, 2019 / Brooklyn Neighborhoods / Brooklyn Holiday Events / Brooklyn Events & Things To Do / Brooklyn Restaurants NYC / Brooklyn Blvd NYC.

St Patrick's Day is on a Sunday this year, meaning that it's going to be an extended party weekend.

At a later date we'll add a bit of history of St. Patrick's Day.

While St. Patrick's Day is one big party, it's important to keep in mind, that like New Years Eve, all the amateurs come out to play [it's not just the Irish who are out drinking on St. Patrick's Day]. So some measure of caution is advised and you have to be careful.

Click here to read more about our round up of some of the Brooklyn St Patrick's Day bars, restaurants & Irish pubs - Brooklyn NYC.




nyc shops nyc shopping nyc shops shopping nyc


Brooklyn Farmers Markets & Street Fairs

Also Staten Island Farmers Markets & Street Fairs

street fairs brooklyn nycMarch 23, 2019 / Staten Island Famers Markets / Brooklyn Farmers Markets / Brooklyn Street Fairs / Staten Island St Fairs / Gotham Buzz NYC.

A few Staten Island & Brooklyn farmers markets may be open year round, but most of them are seasonal. Some of the seasonal Staten Island & Brooklyn farmers markets usually begin opening in May, with the rest of them opening in June or no later than the first couple of weeks in July. Click here to view the schedules of many of the farmers markets in Brooklyn and here for the farmers markets in Staten Island.

Staten Island & Brooklyn street fairs, on the other hand, are entirely seasonal. Some of them hit the streets as early as April. The number of Staten Island & Brooklyn street fairs rises during the late spring and continues through the dog days of summer [July / August], including into the late part of the Fall. By late October / the end of November the Staten Island & Brooklyn street fairs go on hiatus, with a few returning as early as April. Click here to view a full schedule of the Brooklyn street fairs and also Staten Island street fairs.


Click here for Brooklyn tile stores.


nyc real estate nyc business nyc


* REAL ESTATE

short GB MB Bx SB fp & add to QB _ NYC Landlord Harassments Continue

NYCCM Helen Rosenthal Hosts Housing Clinic to Inform Renters of Their Rights

manhattan things to do nycMay 29, 2018 / Upper West Side Neighborhood / Manhattan Real Estate / Manhattan Neighborhoods / Manhattan Buzz NYC.

MB - S.

On Wednesday, May 25th I went to the Goddard Riverside Community Center on Columbus Avenue at 88th Street to attend a housing clinic designed to inform renters of their rights.

***The following introduction is based on prior research done by me, and was not information provided at the housing clinic. I'll let you know when I segue out of my preamble and into the housing clinic.***

Over the past decade landlords appear to have become increasingly aggressive in trying to wriggle out of NYC and NYS rent stabilization regulations, that govern the rental payments under which about two million New Yorkers live.

It is my understanding that the government contributed land and / or financing to build or repair the buildings governed by NYC / NYS rent stabilization laws in exchange for the pricing rights on rent stabilized units. Many of the new landlords who have acquired rent stablized buildings, may possibly be in violation of approaching their business contract(s) in good faith, as the definition of good faith according to Wikipedia is:

"In contract law, the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing is a general presumption that the parties to a contract will deal with each other honestly, fairly, and in good faith, so as to not destroy the right of the other party or parties to receive the benefits of the contract. It is implied in every contract in order to reinforce the express covenants or promises of the contract. A lawsuit (or a cause of action) based upon the breach of the covenant may arise when one party to the contract attempts to claim the benefit of a technical excuse for breaching the contract, or when he or she uses specific contractual terms in isolation in order to refuse to perform his or her contractual obligations, despite the general circumstances and understandings between the parties. When a court or triar or fact interprets a contract, there is always an "implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing" in every written agreement."

What is at stake, throughout the city, is literally hundreds of millions and more likely billions of dollars in - rental benefits or rental income streams - depending on which side of the struggle you're on. The landlords appear to be trying - using the torturtous side effects of construction including noise, health risk dust [inhalation], privacy loss and apartment functional loss - to wrest away the billions of dollars of rental pricing rights benefits from tenants to be pocketed by the landlords themselves. Given the high dollar value of what's at stake - including people's homes - this seems like attempted grand larceny, especially in cases where landlords are breaking the law to achieve their goals.

This will be continued at a later date. Including the segue into the information provided by the Housing Clinic to inform tenants of their rights.

Tenants' Rights March & Rally - June 14th Midtown at 4.30 pm

P.S. There's a March & Rally scheduled for June 14th, beginning at 4.30 pm, at the NY Public Library at 5th Avenue and 40th Street. They plan to march to Governor Cuomo's office at 3rd Avenue and East 41st Street. For details contact info@realrentreform.org or call 212.979.6958. All but one of the No IDC NY senatorial candidates have been invited to participate, and there's a possibility that NYS gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon will be there too - as this seems to coincide with her reasons for challenging Governor Cuomo.


* REAL ESTATE also MB

NY Real Estate Expo

NYC Professionals Discuss Manhattan & NYC Metro Real Estate

April 23, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / Manhattan Real Estate NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.

manhattan real estate manhattan nyc real estateI attended the 10th annual NY Real Estate Expo at the New York Hilton last week. The event was well attended by hundreds of real estate, development and financial professionals from the NYC and metro area. Anthony Kazazis, Director of the event, had organized a series of panels to discuss key aspects affecting the real estate market ranging from software platforms, to financing, to NYC real estate market assessments.

Generally the mood was upbeat, but not without some concern about the future, given changes in the tax laws, foreign interest in NYC investment, interest rates forecasts and technological challenges facing the industry. But, I thought, that is why everyone is here. To find out what's going on so they can navigate the market changes - rather than be surprised by them.

While I had intended to stay only a short while, I found the topics and panelists too interesting to leave, so I stayed most of the day. I started with a discussion of a new information technology platform called Blockchain, which is intended to serve as an information clearing house, and it includes some artificial intelligence capability. I then found my way into a discussion about New York City versus Silicon Valley with respect to attracting large technology companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google. And I ended my visit after listening in on a discussion by NYC and metro area realtors discuss the residential real estate market in Manhattan and outer boroughs.

Sound like an interesting NYC real estate conference? It was. In the photo above you can see the audience at the well attended panel discussions at the NY Real Estate Expo this year.

I'll have more on this later in the week.


nyc social issues nyc schools healthcare nyc education nyc schools new york city


* ISSUES

Empire State of Mind at Global Citizen Concert in Central Park

Thousands Came Together for the Global Citizen Concert in Central Park Saturday Night

October 1, 2019 / UES & UWS Neighborhoods NYC / Manhattan Things To Do / Manhattan Buzz NYC.

I attended the Global Citizens Concert in Central Park Saturday night. It was a beautiful evening and thousands had come to enjoy the music and performances of famous musicians and groups including Queens, Alicia Keys, H.E.R., Pharrell Williams, John Batiste & Stay Human, Carole King and emcees like Hugh Jackman. And all for a good cause, as Global Citizen seeks to support positive change in society for all people on the planet.


MB1386 _ Has The Pulitzer Prize Committee - Like the Corporate Media - Lost its Way?

pulitzer prizes pulitzer prize awards pulitzer putz awards columbia university school of journalism nycUpdated February 21, 2018 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Government & Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

The following is an open letter that I sent to the Pultizer Prize Committee on January 25th, 2018 along with a journalistic series I had written in 2017 and sent to them in 2018 entitled Rupert Murdoch and the Rise of the 21st Century Propaganda Press. The series, which you can view by clicking the link, tells the story about how multi-billionaire Rupert Murdoch appears to use his media outlets as propaganda machines in order to promote pols who will grant him favorable tax legislation, favorable executive rulings and favorable industry regulatory legislation.

Murdoch also appears to be able to manipulate the course of governments and public policy. He appears to have done exactly this in the case of the Iraq War, whereby Murdoch appears to have sent three English-speaking democracies to war - not only for oil - but for his cable network TV ratings too. In Britain in 2016, regarding the Brexit referendum, Murdoch appears to have hijacked public policy in his favor - not the nation's - by pushing through a seismic policy change that enables Murdoch to have greater autonomy over how he conducts his multi-national media business - free from any meaningful government interference - and the Brexit referendum vote also gave Murdoch a huge purchase price discount, because of a devalued British currency.

While the Corporate Media obsesses over the Russian Collusion Investigation - they are distracted from putting in the spotlight what appears to be the REAL 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION STORY - which is Rupert Murdoch's election meddling to further empower and enrich himself at the expense of the republic and its institutions.

In Trump's first year, Murdoch was the recipient of numerous tax breaks, and breath-taking deregulatory actions in Murdoch's industry via FCC Rulings and telecommunications legislative changes. All of this has received scant news coverage, as the Pulitzer Prize Award winning corporate media, were too busy covering Donald Trump's Tweet distractions. By giving preferential treatment to Trump's tweets, which the American public is able to directly access on their own, the corporate media has failed the American public by regurgitating and hence amplifying the President's shock jock statements - instead of doing their job of providing the American public with context-based news reports about the important issues of the day.


QUEENS LIBRARY SCANDAL


Queens Library Corruption Scandal: Starring Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer & Queens President Melinda Katz? | Queens Library 'Scandal' by Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer & Queens Borough President Melinda Katz?
Queens Library Corruption Scandal: Starring Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer & Queens President Melinda Katz?

Queens Library: Controversy & Takeover

Queens Boro President Katz's Controversial Queens Library 'Reform Bill' & NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer's Lawsuit Against the Award Winning Queens Library Resulted in Taxpayers Paying Million$? for What?



The graphic at right was created by Sunnyside artist and jazz drummer Paul Maringelli.This section is dedicated to an important and evolving story happening within the borough of Queens regarding a change to the governance of the Queens Public Library system. Government officials with the help of the NY Daily News appeared to wrest away control of the library from the quasi-independent board of trustees set up by Andrew Carnegie in the early 20th century. Andrew Carnegie donated the funds to build public libraries in New York City and throughout the U.S. and the independent board structure was meant to keep the libraries independent of government control.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer in tandem with the NY Daily News relentlessly attacked the award winning Queens Library President Thomas Galante and the Queens Library Board using allegations and innuendo in what appeared to be a publicity hanging. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz then pushed through legislation changing the Queens Library charter, which wrested control away from the independent board, and gave it to her and the Mayor. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill into law with the near unanimous vote from both NYS legislative bodies.

It appears it was a power grab by Katz with Stringer's help, as the allegations did not result in any court actions and the Queens Library subsequently suffered a multi-million dollar lawsuit loss [we heard but could not confirm that it cost $7 million] regarding the Queens Library President's termination [settled out of court - probably so it wouldn't be scrutinized by the public or the press]. Most of the other local press was guilty of following the NY Daily News narrative which appeared to be guided by the then Publisher, billionaire and real estate developer Mortimer Zuckerman. We carved out our own narrative as what the NY Daily News was reporting didn't seem to be supported by what we knew about the Queens Library and its award winning president.

Click here to read our coverage of the Queens Library corruption scandal starring NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz & Mortimer Zuckerman's NY Daily News or click here for Queens Public Library program and other announcements at the Queens Public Library website.



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* BROOKLYN HOLIDAY EVENTS 1473

Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do - Brooklyn NYC | brooklyn holiday events holiday things to do brooklyn nyc Brooklyn christmas tree lightings menorah lightings kwanza candle lightings sunset park, brighton beach, fort hamilton, brooklyn heights, prospect park halloween parties, park slope, bayridge, greenpoint, williamsburg, flatbush, bushwick holiday events things to do bedford stuyvesant, crown heights and brownsville brooklyn holiday events holiday things to do brooklyn nyc
Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do - Brooklyn NYC

Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do NYC

Brooklyn Holiday Things To Do - Christmas Tree Lightings, Brooklyn Hanukkah Menorah Lightings & Kwanzaa Holiday Candle Lightings

December 28, 2018 / Brooklyn Neighborhoods / NYC Shopping / Brooklyn BLVD NYC.

Community holiday events have been on the rise in Brooklyn since the start of the 21st century. While some date back many years, even prior to the start of the 21st century, many are relatively new.

Enjoying a community get together around the holidays is a good way to share in other people's cultures and strengthen the human bonds that transcend cultural variation. Or conversely, an opportunity to share your cultural upbringing with others.

Each of the Brooklyn holiday events is a bit different, as some are organized by community groups, local government officials and others by business organizations. Oftentimes one can find artisanal products that are made in NYC or NYS for sale, but we've dedicated a special section to announcing Brooklyn Holiday Markets & Shopping - Brooklyn NYC.

Brooklyn Holiday Events & Things To Do Getting Underway

The Brooklyn holiday events get underway shortly after Halloween, with some coming opening up about the time of Thanksgiving. The Brooklyn holiday events are located in or near the following Brooklyn neighborhoods - Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Fort Greene, Brooklyn Heights, Downtown Brooklyn, Prospect Park, Park Slope, Sunset Park, Bayridge, Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill and Dyker Heights. Many either include the serving of some beverage like hot chocolate and generally snacks like cookies - or are near food vendors and restaurants.

Click here to read our report about Brooklyn Holiday Events / Holiday Things To Do in Brooklyn NYC.



 

* HOLIDAYS - Gotham 1470 = THANKSGIVING ALL

Thanksgiving Day - America's Communal Holiday NYC | thanksgiving day sentiments thanksgiving day editorials nyc thanksgiving day meaning of nyc
Thanksgiving Day - America's Communal Holiday NYC

Thanksgiving - America's Communal Holiday

The Pilgrims Legacy: Love, Sharing & Community Empowerment

November 25, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / Thanksgiving Holidays in NYC / Gotham Buzz NYC.

Last year I happened upon a childhood book of fables and fairytales that I had saved since I was a first grader. I was young enough to still like fairytales and old enough to be learning and loving to read. The book, A Gateway to Storyland, by Platt & Munk Co, was given to me around the holidays, and the book still gives me a warm, loved feeling when I periodically open it [see photo at right and it's still in print]. I read it numerous times after I received it, as the illustrations fed the imagination, and lessons embedded in the words resonated with wisdom.

 

Unselfish Parental Love Manifested by Empowering Progeny

Love comes in many forms, but the purest form is unselfish love. The love of truly giving something with no thought of anything in return. That love is oftentimes given intergenerationally - from grandparents to parents to children.

Perhaps the greatest gifts are those that cost us nothing but our time. Like the gift of teaching someone something that they will be able to put to good use throughout their lives. Parents do this all the time, when they teach their children's skills and impart some knowledge and wisdom ... just as my parents did many years ago, by giving me a well illustrated fairytale book to encourage my learning to read, while sharing the time tested wisdom of the ages, handed down in fables and fairytales.

The Pilgrims Shared Communal Resources to Actualize a Dream

At Thanksgiving time we commemorate one of America's first settlements, founded by the risk-taking, resource-pooling, hardworking, spiritual community of Pilgrims.

The Pilgrims were early English settlers who arrived on American shores in the early 17th century [1600's]. They came here because they wanted a measure of freedom and self-determination that they were forbidden in Europe or what was called the 'old country'. The Pilgrims wanted to practice their faith, unencumbered, in a way that differed from the established Church of England. They pooled their money to obtain a ship, the Mayflower, to cross the Atlantic in mid September of 1620, landing on America's shores at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts on November 9, 1620.

 

The Pilgrims Receive Help from the Native People of a Strange Land

Per Wikipedia, the Piligrims survived a hard winter in 1621 with the help of the Wampanoag, an American Indian tribe. The Pilgrims were the immigrants, and the first Americans, the Indian natives, welcomed them. The Wampanaog taught the Pilgrims how to catch eels, and how to grow and harvest corn. Thus the Pilgrims ended 1621 with a good harvest which they celebrated and shared with their new friends, expressing their thanks to a higher power, aka God, for the success of their endeavors.

Thus it was that the first Thanksgiving celebration happened in America ... or did it?




rupert murdoch fox fake news rupert murdoch propaganda press rupert murdoch media madness rupert murdoch king of fake news


* MURDOCH / NY POST PANTALEO

Murdoch's NY Post Editorial on Eric Garner Daniel Pantaleo & NYPBA Patrick Lynch | patrick lynch union boss nypba eric garner death daniel pantaleo officer nypd rupert murdoch union buster wapping britain murdoch phone hacking criminal propaganda rupert murdoch pat lynch new york patrolmen's benevolent assn nyc unions
Murdoch's NY Post Editorial on Eric Garner Daniel Pantaleo & NYPBA Patrick Lynch

A Closer Look at Murdoch's NY Post Editorial on Eric Garner's Death vis a vis Officer Pantaleo

A Union Busting Billionaire's Newspaper Writes an Opinion Omitting Key Facts

The Post's Editorial Reminded me of the Prosecutor's Case in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'

August 14, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz NYC.

In the 1962 film [based on the 1960 book by Harper Lee] 'To Kill a Mockingbird', attorney Atticus Finch takes up the defense of an African American, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman in a small, rural town in Alabama. The verdict is a foregone conclusion in the Depression era deep south, but Atticus Finch does his best to defend Tom, and in doing so, finds plenty of holes in the prosecutor's case. Similarly, I also found holes in Murdoch's NY Post Editorial Board's case, which are provided below. The issue of race was an underlying issue in 'To Kill a Mockingbird', and there are many who believe there's an underlying race issue here.

Murdoch's New York Post Editorial, in a Nutshell, Seems to Tell Why America, Britain & Australia are Divided

By the end of August, NY Police Commissioner James O'Neill will decide whether to keep Officer Daniel Pantaleo on the New York City Police Force. The union boss of the NY Patrolmen's Benevolent Association [NYPBA], Patrick Lynch, came out strongly in favor of keeping Pantaleo on the NY police force, stating that, "He's [Pantaleo] has done nothing wrong." I've provided information taken from a number of different, generally reliable sources, down below, including a link a live video of the incident, so you can cut & paste into your browser, and see / judge for yourself.

ny post fake news fox fake news nyc rupert murdoch fake newsThe NY Post Editorial Board should be ashamed of itself for such a shoddy, one-sided presentation of the facts used in their opinion. That the highest ranking members of one of America's largest newspapers would publish such rubbish, provides added support to the notion that the union busting billionaire who controls the paper, is a predator propagandist. All of the members of the NY Post 'Editorial Board' who didn't strongly object to this opinion should be fired and Rupert Murdoch should be asked to resign as Chairman of the Board at Newscorp.

Murdoch's New York Post Cherry Picked the Facts for their Opinion

Murdoch and his NY Post Editorial Board didn't sign their names to the Editorial, but rather chosed to hide behind their newspaper brand. On August 1, 2019 Murdoch's NY Post Editorial Board's opinion headline read,

"The Facts Say: Do Not Fire Daniel Pantaleo".

Yes, Murdoch's NY Post's CHERRY-PICKED facts might say that. But if provided a full reading of the facts, the full facts might say just the opposite. Let's start with the live video, so you can take a look for yourself, before we delve into the background information. If you want, you may cut and paste this into your browser bar to view the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_s8JklrBSlk

ny post fake news fox fake news nyc rupert murdoch fake newsNYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was recorded on video making the arrest of Eric Garner. Eric Garner was a six foot three, 350 pound, African American who was allegedly illegally selling cigarettes on the street. It's worth noting that Garner had had a number of previous encounters with the police and that Pantaleo had previously been charged in two civil rights lawsuits.

Five Key Omissions by Murdoch's New York Post Editorial Board

NY POST KEY OMISSION I - Pantaleo's complaint history was not included in Murdoch's NY Post opinion, while some of Garner's history with the law was.



 

MURDOCH SERIES

Rupert Murdoch & the Rise of the Propaganda Press: Fox News Propaganda Machine NY Post Fake News | fox news propaganda machine hannity hypocrisy half truths hannity deceit ny post propaganda rupert murdoch rupert murdoch and the rise of the propaganda press 10.5.18 - 2308
Rupert Murdoch & the Rise of the Propaganda Press: Fox News Propaganda Machine NY Post Fake News

K. Rupert Murdoch & the Rise of the Propaganda Press

This Section is Dedicated to Preserving One Man One Vote Democracies by Exposing What Appears to be Murdoch's Life's Work in Propaganda

Updated February 11, 2020 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics / News Analysis & Opinion / Gotham Buzz.

In the Spring of 2016, while watching the Bernie Sanders campaign unfold, I noticed that the 'mainstream media' was showing what seemed to be tangible bias in favor of Hillary Clinton. This prompted my first story about the Bernie Sanders campaign & phenomenon, and made me aware of how the mainstream media appeared to treat him unfairly.

After the New York Primary, I noticed a relentless onslaught of attacks by Rupert Murdoch's NY Post on Mayor de Blasio. The attacks were based on allegations and innuendo, and sometimes included as many as five attack stories per day. Their relentless attacks based on allegations and innuendo outraged my sense of decency and fair play, so I began a study of the NY Post reporting bias which resulted in the second story of this series.

While doing the de Blasio / NY Post story, I couldn't help but notice a wide ranging pattern of what appeared to be a rampant abuse of First Amendment power by Keith Rupert Murdoch and his organization, including breaking laws, invading people's privacy, and bribing public officials. While these activities were uncovered in Britain, it's not a stretch to think that given the same man, Murdoch, is controlling the Newscorp & 21st Century Fox global media empire, that these same sorts of nefarious activities might be going on here as well. In fact, people responsible for management oversight of the tainted operations were subsequently given high ranking positions in this country.

As the Republican and Democratic Conventions of 2016 approached, I decided that the time period surrounding the political party conventions, up through the general election in November, would provide me with a good case study period to evaluate whether and how Murdoch's Fox News, NY Post and other assorted media properties, including the Wall Street Journal and the National Geographic, might be used as propaganda outlets.

In doing the context research, I found America's and Britain's media laws had been rewritten and loosened over time. In numerous cases I noticed that Keith Rupert Murdoch, all too often appeared to be in close proximity to the politicians changing those laws - almost always having supported them with his media properties - and at least in one case - even making personally direct donations to their campaigns.

I dug a bit further and found that there are few 'real' media laws of the books in Australia, where Murdoch is no longer a citizen. In spite of his status as a foreigner he reportedly owns 64% of that nation's daily newspapers and has a controlling interest in the nation's satellite TV system. I did some cursory research and it's not a stretch to think that Murdoch may have gotten his start influencing the re-writing of a nation's media laws there.

I also found what appeared to be a striking pattern of Murdoch manipulations and moves that seemed to come straight out of the political and propaganda playbook written by two of the earliest, most successful, and most evil practitioners of modern mass market propaganda - Adolph Hitler and Joseph Goebbels.

Hitler and Goebbels came to my attention because I found that I really could not even begin to understand modern propagandist techniques without studying Hitler and Goebbels in Germany in the 1930's. Hitler's skillful use of propaganda appears to have hastened his ascent to power, and enabled him to keep his grip on it. These two men are the fathers of modern propaganda, and it appears that Keith Rupert Murdoch has adopted and updated their propagandist techniques to serve his own interests.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. So please read on.

Click here to view our report about the state of media coverage of the 2016 election.

Or click here to continue on with this story about Keith Rupert Murdoch & the rise of the propaganda press / media madness/ corrupt Fox News / NY Post.




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* TRUMP / PANTS ON FIRE = ALL but SB & SECTION

Dysfunctional Donald: The Trump Presidency | dysfunctional presidency of donald j trump presidency failures
Dysfunctional Donald: The Trump Presidency

The American Presidency & Dysfunctional Donald Trump

This Section is Dedicated to Informing the American Public about the Democracy Destroying Donald

December 11, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics / News Analysis, Opinion & Satire / Gotham Buzz.

Beginning in late 2016 I began to start paying attention to some of the crazy stories floating around about Donald Trump. At first the stories seemed almost unbelievable tales of someone competing to become president of the United States, but the more I dug, the more I found, and eventually the evidence of who this man was and is, almost frightened me when pausing to consider that he had and still has control of the most powerful government apparatus in the world.

Empires and civilizations come and go because those who worked hard to build them are not the same people who inherit them. And the people who inherit them are oftentimes unappreciative of the hard work and thought that went before them.

We're too close, to my way of thinking, of squandering the gifts that were left to us by our forbears because we have not paid attention to all of the malfeasance and corruption that today is so much a part of government and the media we rely on to inform us. I've began running a series on what I view as the most egregious threat coming from the media in the series on Rupert Murdoch and the Rise of the Propaganda Press, which I had at first titled Murdoch Media Madness.

This series is a compendium of reports I've published on the presidency of the dysfunctional Donald. The graphic above showing Rupert Murdoch's Fox Fake News celebrating the billionaire tax cut of December 2017 includes my take on things in red.



The Real National Emergency:  President Pinocchio's Pants are on Fire | donald trump lies pinocchio president y 2k lies rupert murdoch pinocchio pundits fox fake news fox propaganda machine
The Real National Emergency: President Pinocchio's Pants are on Fire

The Real National Emergency?

President Pinocchio's Pants are on Fire

February 19, 2019 / NYC Neighborhoods / NYC Politics & Government / Gotham Buzz NYC. News Analysis, Opinion & Satire.

I stumbled upon an episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, from January 10, 2018, about how Donald Trump has differentiated himself from all other presidents of the United States of America - as the greatest known liar of them all.

Cut and paste this link for a short video of Jimmy Kimmel's documentary of Trump Telling His 2,000th Lie over a year ago - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQruDaf7bKs

Real Presidential Greatness vs 'Greatest'

It's important to distinguish between greatest - which compares one to another - and greatness, for which there is no comparison. Greatest is an amount or extent considerably above normal, while greatness is about having won the respect for achievements in one's field. True greatness is rarely achieved by braggadocious people, because they are too busy talking to make time to do anything truly great.

Presidential Greatness. George Washington was achieved greatness by risking his life as the Commander in Chief of the colonial army during the Revolutionary War. A greatness which was made even more so, by the fact that the first president didn't try to keep / possess the title of the president beyond two terms /eight years. Abraham Lincoln, similarly risked his life, to hold the Union together, while exorcising it of the heinous institution of slavery. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt, saved democracy, capitalism and freedom, by leading the nation through the Great Depression and the Second World War.

rupert murdoch fox fake news quid pro quo president trump murdoch pinocchio pundits fox fake news pinocchio president trumpBut while the Donald may not have done anything remotely deserving the moniker of greatness, over a year ago Jimmy Kimmel identifed that Trump had already become the greatest liar who ever occupied the White House. That was over a year ago, in January of 2018, and since then the Trump has continued onward with his train of lies.

President Pinocchio Supported by Murdoch's Fox News Pinocchio Pundits

But to be fair, Trump likely could not have come up with so many different lies to tell, without the help of multi-billionaire, global propagandist, Keith Rupert Murdoch, and his mass media mendacity machine.

The Murdoch propaganda machine includes outlets like Fox News and their portfolio of Pinocchio pundits, the Wall Street Journal and the NY Post.

Murdoch appears to have benefitted greatly from the Trump presidency, via 1) huge tax cuts for the wealthy, 2) Trump military action in Syria where Murdoch owns part of Genie Energy with former VP Dick Cheney and several other robber barons, 3) huge Fox News ratings wins due in part to the Donald's Crazy Town [name of a book by Bob Woodward about the Trump Administration] and last but not least 4) Department of Justice and FCC approval of Murdoch's inverted takeover of Disney / ABC which will soon enable Murdoch to take control of about half of America's broadcast news.

5 of President Pinocchio's Biggest Lies Since 7/2018

Since Kimmel's video was posted in January of 2018, Trump has continued telling many lies - including some very, very big ones. Here are five of Trump's biggest lies between July 2018 and today, including a brief analysis of the impact.




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